Project identity - definition and examples
Projects are characterised, among other things, by their novelty, which means that a project identity (PI) does not initially exist, but must first be established. Central components of a PI are the usually already existing image of the project-supporting company, the vision for the project and the self-view of the project participants. A uniform image of the project is a prerequisite for it to be distinguished from other projects and to build up a high recognition effect. A uniform image can include a separate - short and memorable - project name, a separate logo and slogan, and, for larger projects, a letterhead, email signature and business cards. These project symbols can help to increase acceptance for the project and improve the motivation of the project team members.
What is "project identity"?
The rules for communication define the project's relationship with its stakeholders and the PI is the image that the project strives for within this framework. The PI refers to the essence and personality of a project and is important in fostering a common understanding and commitment among project participants. It serves as a guide for decision-making and prioritisation during the course of the project and supports the development of a clear and consistent project strategy. It can be used to create a common understanding and clear direction for all participants and may include the following aspects:
- Stakeholders: The project identity defines the stakeholders of the project.
- Message and communication: The project identity defines the core messages and includes how the project communicates with relevant stakeholders.
- Goals and purpose: The project identity defines the goals and purpose of the project and specifies what the project should achieve and why it is being carried out.
- Uniqueness: The project identity highlights the unique features of the project, e.g. the creation of new technologies, the organisation of efficient work processes.
- Values and principles: The project identity includes the core values, e.g. quality orientation or implementation efficiency, and principles, e.g. sustainability or innovation strength, that should apply to the project.
The project identity thus describes the unique features and characteristics, goals and values that make up a project and distinguish it from other projects.
Project name as an identity founder
An appropriate and meaningful project name can help communicate and support the desired PI. Because the name of a project is often the first thing that stakeholders and the public are told about the project, it creates a certain perception of the project and, in a way, shapes the PI, arouses stakeholders' interest and creates a positive perception. A well-chosen project name reflects different elements of the PI, such as the objectives, values, target group or uniqueness of the project.
From the world of project management
By involving as many stakeholders as possible in the naming process at an early stage, the project manager can implement a very good marketing measure right at the start of the project. The project comes to a name, for example, through a joint brainstorming session among those involved in the project, and sometimes project names emerge almost by themselves. For example, the complicated working title "Advanced Data Analytics and Management” can simply be given the name "Project ADAM". The project is easily identifiable through this project name and makes it possible to distinguish it from other projects.
As nice and simple as it would be, the project name alone cannot make the PI.
Uniform appearance of the project team
The unified appearance of the project team is also an important component of PI. It refers to how the project is presented to the outside world, both in communication and in appearance. A consistent appearance of the team members ensures that the PI is communicated consistently and clearly.
The uniform appearance includes various aspects:
- Design and visual identity: A consistent design and visual identity, such as logo, colours, fonts and graphics, helps to represent the project identity. It creates recognition and connection to the project.
- Language and tone: The way the project is communicated should be consistent. The language used, tone of voice and messages should match and support the project identity.
- Behaviour and actions: The behaviour and actions of those involved in the project should be consistent with the project identity. This includes interactions with clients, stakeholders and team members.
- Internal and external communication: Consistent communication both internally within the project team and externally towards stakeholders and the public is important to maintain the project identity. This includes, for example, the use of defined terms, the way information is presented and the choice of communication channels.
A unified appearance creates a clear and consistent PI. It enables stakeholders to more easily recognize, understand and identify with the project. Consistent appearance enhances the credibility of the project and supports effective communication and collaboration with participants, and through their consistent appearance, staff show that they have internalised the PI. To do this, they must be able to answer key questions about the project without hesitation. This requires coordination to answer the questions that are most important to the project:
- What is the name of our project?
- What is the goal of our project?
- What is the object of the project?
- What is the benefit of our project?
- Why is this benefit only achievable through this project?
- Who are we?
- How do we want to achieve our goal?
- Who will be affected by the result?
- When do we have to be ready?
- What is the current status?
A uniform PI, valid for all project participants, prevents a contradictory public image, builds credibility and creates trust. The project presents itself to the public with clear values and unambiguous communication, but this places very high demands on the project manager, which are not easy to master. If the PI also has the support of top management and stakeholders, nothing stands in the way of long-term project success. A well-planned and enforced project identity forms the foundation of the project, and those who build on solid ground need not fear stormy times. In difficult situations, the PI provides support and guidance and helps to get through crises unscathed. If the project identity hasn't been defined yet, now is the time to start - just invite people to an information session and get started.
Author: Dr. Roland Ottmann
Keywords: Project management, Project identity