We use a tree metaphor for designing corporate identity. The trunk is the logo and other non-changeable elements. In our design world, this takes shape as a Brand Guideline. Limbs are the overarching principals of the organization such as innovation or efficiency. In some instances, they can also represent different company divisions. Leaves are the individual products or ad campaigns. Most campaigns last 18-24 months and then new ones sprout. Leaves also tend to be the most colorful – or have the most personality (another White Design Studio term we use a lot!). Trunk and limb level messaging should always inform or support the leaf level.

Using the WHY-HOW-WHAT strategy, the trunk is the WHY message, limbs are the HOW and leaves are the WHAT. Product managers want only to talk about the leaves – or the WHAT – but they should be framing all of the messaging in the context of WHY, HOW and WHAT.

Bottom line: Every message should include portions of WHY, HOW and WHAT – the difference is in the proportions of each.

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