Fast facts

Client: Brand Canberra

What they needed: A set of brand guidelines telling people which brand to apply and when

What we did: stakeholder engagement, prototyping, user testing

What we learned: the tool you need for your internal team to capture all the details should align with the guidance you release to the public, but doesn’t need to be the same thing

The results: A clear set of guidelines that distil complexity.

Clearer brand guidelines for Brand Canberra

A brand is strong when everyone with a stake in that brand understands how to use it.  The team at Brand Canberra had a clear vision: an independent brand to be a focal point for attracting people to Canberra — and for Canberrans to express pride in their city.  But there was a complication: the Australian Capital Territory Government had its own set of brands, and the two brands overlapped.

That created potential for confusion — and for people to misapply either brand. Here are just two of the scenarios:

  • how to brand a Canberra community event with sponsorship from the ACT Government?
  • how to brand a program run by the ACT Government that helps promote Canberra?

We were working with a complex set of users, too,  from Canberra business owners, to cultural institutions to community groups and ACT Government staff.  Brand Canberra needed a tool that was simple enough for the straight-forward use cases, and sophisticated enough for the complex ones.

Our approach

We didn’t have the answers ourselves, but we knew that by engaging our users, we could find a way forward.  Going in, we didn’t want to be too legalistic; creating a set of brand guidelines that read like a statute. We knew that most users would have an intuitive feel for which scenarios were clearly ‘Brand Canberra’, which were ‘ACT Government’ (and which might be both).  

We ran a series of discovery workshops to capture different scenarios for the brand. In these workshops, we drew out the attributes that were significant in deciding how to categorise each scenario.

Once we’d done the discovery, we created a complete decision tree to map all the scenarios. Here’s just one section of it.  


This was very much an internal tool for our team and immediate client contact, though.  It was a vast, sprawling thing. Our experience is that complex decision trees make sense for trained business analysts, but less so for everyday users.

So we needed to design a more user-friendly presentation.  We took everything we’ve learned from designing navigation for websites and applied it to a document, with way-finding cues, chunking information and internal hyperlinks.  We prototyped three design concepts with different approaches to guiding people through the decisions.  Then we took them out to users and tested them.

The clear winner was a design that blended a question/direction style with presenting separate segments of the decision tree. Here’s an example of a question/direction section.


And here’s an example of a decision tree segment.

decision tree

The result

There are several things we’re proud of for this project.

  1. We created an ‘easy’ route for common scenarios that were clear cut, so most users didn’t need to wade through needless complexity
  2. Because we have the full decision tree online, we have a blueprint that we can go back to and revise if new scenarios emerge.  So the tool can be maintained into the future
  3. The client and their stakeholders were engaged closely right throughout the project: they felt it was an interesting challenge that they had a part in solving.

This comes through in feedback from our client. “People now have boundaries around how the brand works rather than it being hit & miss. People want to do the right thing by the brand and support it.  Matt and his team opened up communication channels. They built trust.” – Brodie Nicholls, Director, Brand Canberra

Share This