/ Guidelines. Know When to Overwrite Them.

Brand Guidelines shouldn’t become that unpenetrable fortress. I cam across this article today and couldn’t relate more to a current project we are working on where a brand is taken over by another one and we have to channel the merging of the old into the new while preserving the spirit of both. A rather challenging similar exercise we came across with the Tata Communications project as well about 4 years ago that was even more complex; channeling five brands all located in different global markets into one large global brand.

I found this paragraph so true that I decided to quote as is, coming from Craig Stout at Interbrand and related to a visit they made to the New York Times Office.

“From a design and creative perspective, The New York Times does not adhere to a stringent set of guidelines. Mr. Bodkin feels that an overt adherence to guidelines does not allow for the publication’s artists and designers’ creativity to shine through. The approach seems to work as proven by The Times’ ability to have a fresh look that is constantly relevant, surprising and engaging without veering too far away from the spirit of the brand. In general, the great brands that stay visually engaging over time–Nike, Target, Starbucks–have a single or small group of directors who maintain tight creative control and make decisions based on creative executions rather than a strict adherence to guidelines.

There is nothing more true as often brand become the prisoners of their own guidelines. “No you can’t do that, no you can’t do that either, you can do that only in this color. Sorry that’s not going to be possible”. At the end of the day most guidelines are the brand biggest enemy when conceived superficially. Very often Marketing director or brand manager overrules these guidelines because they were conceived outside of the brand positioning and brand strategic approach.

Today’s communications/advertising/marketing environment calls for constant changes and adjustment and evolution of the brand. This a end-user market and there are so many channels of communications today as opposed to 20 years ago that the brand need to have a voice that can express itself either in print (advertising, corporate communications etc), in motion (interactive, TV advertising), in space (event, retail experience) or even in sound (radio, interactive, etc).

Today you can’t possible restrict how one brand can grow without hoping to extend its own reach.So if you are going to develop and launch a brand the best way to control it is set a minimum of guidelines but allow maximum of creativity while preserving the core messaging.

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