Throw your brand guidelines away!

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Or as my director would like me to call it: Stretch your brand guidelines to their absolute limits and then plan your campaigns!’

As a marketing professional, I should swear an oath on companies’ brand bibles. I should tell you how valuable brand guidelines are to the building blocks of your reputation; the quintessence of your values; the consistency of your image over years.

Restrictive, anachronistic, counterproductive… (oops, what did I say?!) I’m sorry I couldn’t help it. But you know I’m right. Surely you’ve come across this conundrum before.

Try to remember a campaign you designed a few months ago… perfectly in line with your brand guidelines: well balanced, smart use of imagery, snappy tagline. But nothing appealing or astounding. Your key message was lost in the garden of brand conformity.

When you reach this point, when all your campaigns tend to look the same, it might be time to pick up one of your new campaigns and play with it. A little tip: throw your guidelines away! And then take the guidelines back, look at them upside down, shake them, stretch the rules to their limits, and take a fresh approach to bringing them back to life.

Not convinced? I know. Brand guidelines exist for good reasons. They’re especially important for young brands and start-ups to establish their identity and reputation. But, once your brand has gained traction, and there’s scope for flexibility, you can allow yourself (and your designers) time to play with specifically chosen campaigns. 

Here are three ideas of what you could gain from playing with your guidelines:

1. The art of re-focusing

Don’t become suffocated by the restrictions of your guidelines. Go back to basics: what is your key value proposition? What is the essence of your brand? What is your differentiation factor? What imagery embodies your style?

2. Testing & learning 

Amaze yourself, and your customers, with unexpected ideas. You can start with a specific segment, look out for your customers’ reaction to an idea and scale out if you’re happy with the results. Marketing is not a static science, customers are not always predictable, testing is part of the game.

3. Innovating and gaining customers

Stay clear of the status quo. Innovate. This can drive you to uncover new opportunities, enter new market segments and even step ahead of your competitors!

This isn’t about actually throwing your guidelines away. This is about keeping in mind that guidelines are lines to guide us. It’s a starting point to evolution and growth, not a full stop to creativity. 

Now it’s time to have a play! Or to contact us… we’d be happy to help you stretch your brand guidelines to their absolute limits, and unleash your campaigns’ potential.

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