With nearly 40 offices worldwide, Ashoka has had the need to maintain a flexible global brand that is optimized for each region. For three decades, Ashoka has used a distinctive blue for its tree logo, accompanied by an orange accent color in its marketing material.
Because of Ashoka's diversity and scope, cultural and socio-political factors play in unexpected, surprising ways when it comes to marketing and branding. For example, in South Africa, Ashoka has found that its brand of blue and orange has negative connotations: it happens to be the flag color motif from their Apartheid history. Ashoka South Africa has therefore had to adapt the brand and use a modified visual identity.
This exemplifies just one of the many reasons why Ashoka has experienced brand “branching”. In late 2018, I was hired by Ashoka as a visual designer to research, audit and compile an up-to-date style guide. The strategy was to use the style guide document to build consensus and country alignment.
Together with communications leads spanning Spain, France, India and Egypt, to country offices in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, we formed an exploratory branding group, calling ourselves the Branding Team of Teams. I mediated and co-led this multi-national initiative. Our role was to survey, document and address the current state of the Ashoka brand, and then proceed to make branding and visual recommendations based on our findings.
In the case of the South Africa office for example, Ashoka had a set of secondary colors that they could use for their branding, while still maintaining alignment.
This Ashoka style guide is a result of my visual design analysis, research, team building and collaborative leadership. The style guide is a living document on the state of the Ashoka brand, and was designed in part to begin engaging country offices in an ongoing conversation on how to align and steward the brand moving forward.