Firm fills the gaps between advertising, design and project management.

Diadem provides "a unique service offering", says New Zealand general manager Brian Anderson.

Given Anderson's choice of phrase, it should come as no surprise that Diadem's area of expertise is the delivery and communication to the public of corporate brands.

But defining Diadem's uniqueness is a difficult task, even for a professional communicator such as Anderson.

It is not an advertising agency and neither graphic design nor project management is its raison d'etre, although they are core disciplines.

Instead, Diadem occupies the spaces in between these specialties, engaged in activities that have boosted the brand presence of banks BNZ and ANZ, property managers and investors Goodman Group, retailer Country Road, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, Vector Arena and Auckland Airport.

Some of the work is decidedly prosaic. Take "sky signs" - those big corporate emblems atop office blocks.

Diadem was engaged to replace the signs for ANZ's Wellington office building.

"We did a site analysis on that building," says Anderson. "We mapped it, researched the best vantage points and from our analysis, we realised that two of the three signs were basically obsolete as they weren't viewed from anywhere." These signs are not cheap, costing about $50,000 for design, materials, manufacturing and assembly.

"We replaced one and got two-thirds of the budget allocated to that building to be spent somewhere else," says Anderson. "They identified another building in Wellington with great exposure ... and now they've got two sites.

"That's the type of story, the type of approach we take."

Diadem was also involved in the unrolling of BNZ's new corporate logo and Anderson offers some observations about components that result in success or failure, contending that the bank's initial change went too far.

He argues the new look under-emphasised the bank's local credentials by ditching the Southern Cross "chevron" emblem and removing the words "Bank of New Zealand" beneath the logo.

This allowed competitors to stress their domestic credentials at BNZ's expense. When BNZ tweaked the logo, the Southern Cross and "Bank of New Zealand" were returned.

Diadem's role was to devise a system of rolling out the bank's revised livery at an economical cost.

Font, font size, colour, background and the environment in which they are placed are crucial to achieving the objectives of a brand strategy, Anderson says.

"It can easily sound like a brand is a logo stuck on a wall but brands are a whole environmental approach," he says, citing the company's work with airports in Melbourne, Perth and Auckland.

A dominant element of this branding is summarised by two further examples of jargon: "way-finding" and "way-showing". "You've got to find your way, not only to the airport but, once you're there, from the car park to the right terminal," Anderson says.

He is commendably blunt, when asked about the purpose of easing a passenger's way from car to car park to terminal: "There is a strategy. They're turning it into facilities with plenty of car parks, plenty of shopping and there's a runway there. That's what an airport is; a place to make money."

Anderson contends there is a science to way-finding and way-showing; one that involves "materials, colours, font size, floor treatments, ceiling treatments and how to emphasise doors or entrance-ways - it's not about adding arrows everywhere".

Colour and lighting is used as a way to accentuate gates and doorways.

If you want people to stick around and contemplate which goods to buy, then install carpet, is his advice.

To convey the message - "nothing to see here, move along" - a hard floor covering is ideal.

"It's the simple things like that," Anderson says.

The task on behalf of Auckland Airport, which has just started, is an excellent rehearsal for the Rugby World Cup. If directing airline passengers is a science, just imagine the task of guiding tens of thousands of inebriated rugby fans between the various retail and entertainment spaces so as to better relieve them of their foreign currency.

Diadem is also doing some initial work for the new Auckland supercity council, developing way-finding signage for Auckland during the cup.

Another opportunity for Diadem could be the development of the old Shell service station brand, the retail network bought by Infratil and the NZ Superannuation fund. "Anything with a New Zealand focus is high on the agenda," Anderson says.