Organizational Branding Unit

Please make sure that you take a close look at the OBU assignment prompts before starting the audio and video for this lecture. Also consume these in the order they are provided for the most logical progression of information.

OBU Audio

This audio will take you through the basic ideas of this unit and how it supports our class’ learning goals.

OBU Project Overview and Resources

This video will take you through the project  and all its components in its entirety.

OBU Project Examples/Brand Identity Strategy

This video will take you through two different examples of developing brand identity for this project.

(You may have to click on the link below, rather than have it play directly in the post)

Ask your questions below. You might consider conferring with your group members about your questions as well.


Published by


Hiya, I'm Allison. I'm a writer, a teacher, a lifelong student and a lover of all things strange and historical. And unicorns, of course I love unicorns. And yes, in a war between zombies and unicorns, unicorns will easily prevail.

34 thoughts on “Organizational Branding Unit

  1. Hey Allison,

    I thought the portion of the video referencing millennials and our troubles with receiving critique was painfully accurate. I am definitely not exempt from this stereotype as I’ve caught myself jumping to certain defense mechanisms at certain encounters with criticism. My question has to do with being able to use criticism effectively. What would you say is the best way to, not only listen to criticism, but also absorb it and use it to change yourself positively? Specifically for us millennials.

    Jack O’Neil

    1. Jack,
      I think you know at least part of my answer already. Listening is at the heart of taking critique well. Simply keeping our mouths zipped closed and allowing the person who is giving critique to speak will usually help a lot. Our initial reaction of embarrassment and/or anger at being critiqued often keeps us from hearing what’s most valuable if we rush in to explain ourselves.

      Giving critique isn’t the easiest thing to do, and people often need some time to ease into the most constructive part of what they’re saying. If we interrupt them with our defense we risk missing the important stuff. I’ve found that when I keep my mouth closed while receiving critique that by the end of someone’s comment I’ve found that I actually agree with what they’re saying– even if I don’t love the way they said it or the way it made me *feel* I can often see the value in what someone has said simply by stifling my initial reaction.

      I think this article does a really great job at breaking down the ways to stay cool while you’re receiving critique:


  2. Hi Allison,

    You keep mentioning how you want us to not treat this like a normal group project, I know you mentioned it a little in the video the difference. But, if you could please further expand on exactly what you mean that would be great.


    1. Justin,

      I have found that most students approach a group project by dividing up the work and then not communicating much until it’s time to put the project together — at which point it’s difficult to correct things if one person has done something out of alignment with the project or the rest of the group’s work. I suggest that instead you stay in touch and discuss what you’re working on frequently. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline of the project to put together your individual pieces — schedule time ahead to see what everyone has worked on.

      I have also found that when students treat this project like a “group project” that they focus only on the piece of the project right in front of them, rather than looking at the project as steps that lead to a larger goal. When groups don’t communicate about the ways that they’ll need to translate information from the Annotated Bibliography to the Conference Call and then eventually to the Website, they struggle a lot. When they discuss the ways in which they’ll have to address different audiences and different purposes for essentially the same core of research/information the project goes more smoothly.


      1. Hey Allison,
        I see your point on this comment, it makes sense for us to get together to work frequently so that we know the project well. I’m still a little confused about how we should break our project up. Seems there will be a few writers, a brand image person, maybe an editor / finalizer. How would you suggest we partition our group work?

      2. Cory,
        I think the best way to break things up is to make sure that everyone is doing some writing for each project, but to lighten the load for your designers (whoever is responsible for putting the majority of the design together for the website and/or the slide deck). It’s up to you to decide what’s fair, but those are some pretty time consuming jobs.


  3. Hey Allison,

    My question is in reference to the video skype session that we will be having for our project. Are the questions you will be asking going to be tailored more towards the main ideas and concepts of our pitch or are you gonna ask more specific questions surrounding our topic? Also to we need to explain to you where the information we are stating came from as we say it or is that something to include at the end of the presentation?

    Chase Tosh

    1. Chase,
      The questions I ask may range from topical stuff to some critique of your project overall. I don’t expect you to know everything and I’m not there to “grill” you — just find places where we can strengthen your project overall. Your Annotated Bibliography tells me where your research came from, but if you quote anything directly in your slides make sure to note who said it.


  4. Hi Allison,
    A couple of questions, for the critique/ conference call this will be graded as a group will there also be individual grades on our presentation performance during the call? Also if we are struggling to choose a topic what are some key tips you can give us to narrow it down to a preferred choice for everyone?
    Thank you,
    – Joana

    1. Joana,
      There are not individual grades for the call. If you’re struggling with your topic, I recommend we talk individually, but my general suggestion is to pick something that everyone has an interest or personal investment in.


  5. Hi Allison,

    I was wondering if you had any specific advice in regards to communicating effectively as a digital team. I could easily see how a project might be less coherent than it should be if not all team members are operating under the same assumptions or if there were communication issues, and I was wondering how effective teams in the past have dealt with communication or issues arising from a lack of communication.


    1. Geoff-
      Effective teams meet in real time at least once a week– even if that’s just a 10 minute Skype call or lunch on campus. I have *never* had a group get an A on this project overall that did not meet in real time fairly frequently. Other than that, some people have used a group text or various apps (like Slack) to manage their group communication in the past. It’s important to have an honest conversation (in real time) about what group members are likely to commit to.


  6. Hello Allison,

    I was wondering, when accepting critique, one should always take it with a grain of salt and take it as a learning experience, but when does professional critique turn to just being rude. I know there is always a thin line and it is easy to cross the boundary of what is and what isn’t acceptable when giving critique but what is it that really changes or shows one from the other.

    1. Riley,
      I never take critique with a grain of salt (or lightly) — all critique has value — even abusive critique. Now, that does not mean that I advocate for you taking abusive critique to heart in terms of feeling badly about yourself if someone is trying to tear you down. But there is always value in determining why abusive critique happened to begin with. There is also value in learning the difference between when someone is being rude to you and when they are simply *not* sugar coating things.

      Many times it seems that some millennials take a majority of critique to be “rude” or “abusive” because they are not used to being critiqued at all, so it all feels like an attack — which is not necessarily their fault. As kids, there were lots of systems in place to cushion failure in a way that hasn’t really prepared you for the world as it is.

      The truth is that most of us feel stung when we’ve worked hard on something that isn’t received well, but that experience is more than a learning experience in dealing with difficult people. It’s a learning experience about who we are and how we work.

      One of the biggest complaints about millennial workers is that they’re unable to work well with others because they feel as though they are always right. Being invested in being right is one of the best ways to get fired and one of the best ways to trash your professional reputation. Taking AND incorporating critique is a skill that will get you everywhere, and if you work in an industry where reputation is important, you will excel if you learn this skill!

      So, my advice is to approach all critique initially as though it is constructive. We can always find ways to improve ourselves and even when folks are being purposely hurtful or rude, we may have something to learn from them.


  7. Hi Allison,
    I was curious as to why millennials are thought to be less efficient in groups. Why are we thought of to not work well as a team compared to people older than us, and how do we break that generalization?

    Thanks, Noah

    1. Noah,
      Typically this comes from two places: One is that millennials are not viewed as effective communicators in professional settings. This means that they do not always adapt well to situations in which their preferred methods of communication are not the dominant ones being utilized. So if they are resistant to having face to face interactions or phone calls it makes group communication very difficult in the professional world, which relies heavily on real-time interaction.

      They are also seen frequently as not paying attention in group settings, choosing to look at their phones or computers more than they actively engage in the collaborations going on around them. In industries where real-time interaction is vital to success, this is a huge problem for millennials.

      Secondly, millennials are seen as being less efficient in groups because they are not always great at taking critique and incorporating other people’s ideas.. There is a perception that millennials are heavily invested in their own ideas and being “right.”

      The best way to break this stereotype is to be actively engaged. Learn about the principles of active listening, and how to take other people’s ideas into consideration and incorporate them with your own. Learn to be present in meetings and speak up about your ideas, as well as listening to others. Good collaboration is truly a skill, so take opportunities to work with others any time you can and ask for feedback about how you performed in a group.


  8. Hey Allison,

    You mentioned that the annotated bibliography is graded pass/fail based on the formatting and if you do it correctly, but it is a group document, so I was wondering if you could clarify a few things on that. If some members do it properly, and others don’t, does everyone fail the assignment? Or just the individuals that didn’t get it correct.


    1. Jake,
      You’re turning it in together for my convenience and for you to get some practice on the nuts and bolts of creating a group document (this is something that some people have never done, as many of my students outside of Leeds have never participated in a group project). If one person doesn’t do things correctly, that’s on them.


  9. Hello Allison,
    Why do you separate the expectations between yourself and the millennial audience? Shouldn’t we expect that both groups will have professional expectations?


    1. Scott,
      I think you may be misunderstanding me — both sets of expectations are professional expectations, but I am not the same as your millennial audience; we have completely different goals and power dynamics between us.

      My expectations are those of the person setting the standards for the assignment. I am the one who will evaluate you and who knows best what the assignment is about (naturally, since I wrote it!). Your millennial audience comes to you with the expectation that you are the expert and that you are their peer. These are two different rhetorical situations and it’s a vital professional skill to be able to take one set of information and make it ready for someone who is a standard-setter and evaluator (like your boss) and a consumer (like the readers of your website).

      Between you (meaning yourself and your group) and myself, we have a common goal, which is to produce reliable information for the millennial audience you choose. I set the standards, you meet them (or do not) and I collaborate with you to improve your product. I will also be responsible for evaluating your product in terms of how it meets my expectations. This is really not so far from what happens when you work to produce something for a consumer.

      This is a much different relationship than what you have with your millennial audience, who expects a different kind of accountability from you. They did not set the standard, but they expect you to be credible, well “spoken” (written, in this case) and professional as it relates directly to their experience.

      You’re learning to approach different audiences in this project, as much as any other skill.


  10. Hi Allison,

    So as we progress with our project and conduct research in our specified areas, I believe you said that we were able to make adjustments to our TCF? Or at least adjustments in our assigned research areas? I figure, as we conduct more research, we may find that one group member has significantly more work to do, and we might want to redefine certain roles if that is allowed?

    1. Madison,
      Yes, I expect that as you do research your ideas will grow and change. The TCF is simply a starting point to get you going. I also expect that individual responsibilities will be a bit fluid in well-run groups.


  11. Hi Allison,

    From the video, I have gotten the impression that there is a lot of information, as well as things we have to do that may be new to many of us. I was wondering if you had any ideas or recommendations for keeping everything organized, or any preferences for how our team displays and presents are information?

    1. Alula,
      Practice at least 24 hours before your meeting time so that you have time to change anything funky. (Past groups assure me this is the ticket!). ALSO! When you do your practicing, designate one person to have the assignment prompt open and treat it like a checklist — do you cover everything I’m asking for? If not, correct that! It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the project and little things fall through the cracks. Choose someone who is detail oriented to check back with the assignment prompt to make sure you’re staying on track.


  12. Hi Allison!
    Our research is pivotal to the success of our website so it will make up a large part of the content. I know we are citing these sources in our annotated bibliography, but I am wondering how/if we are supposed to cite them in our website?

    Thank you,

  13. Hey Allison,

    How do you recommend choosing a topic that has enough depth to cover all the requirements while not being so broad that the website and presentation are still comprehensive and cover all the necessary areas of the topic? Thanks.

    – Alec

  14. Hey Allison,

    you have mentioned several times that this is not a normal group project and I agree. When meeting with my group today we had some troubles deceiding how to break up the work. We talked about having a few researchers, a brand manager, and an editor who will make everything cohesive but that doesn’t seem like a fair split up of the work. Could you possible give some more suggestions on how to break everything up. Thanks!

    1. Brad,
      I suggest that everyone do *some* writing, but that you allow the folks who are designing your slideshow and website to do less of the writing, overall. Think about it in terms of time commitment, as well as strengths. Someone is probably really organized and can keep track of your progress and setting deadlines, etc., but this will likely take a bit less time than being the designer on the slide deck and/or website. I’d have an honest conversation about these tasks to determine who should do what.

      Bottom line: talk about personal strengths first and then try to make accurate predictions about how much time may be spent on each aspect of the project to determine how to split up the tasks.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s