Rules & Regulations

by Blake Howard    March 6, 2012

The rate at which brands succeed and fail in today's ever-changing society is mind blowing. With our fast-paced evolving world, How do brands find new ways to respond accordingly?

One common place in the world of brand is having a monstrous document called “Brand Standards”. It is the rules and regulations for a brand’s visual identity.

Unfortunately, Simply slapping your logo on everything in the same spot (according to those rigorous standards) just won’t work anymore. Consumers want more depth than that. They want captivating stories, new experiences, and variety yet still “on brand”. I read this fascinating article this week on Fast Company called “Brands as Patterns”. The author illustrates the power of a brand being unified around several small ideas that manifest themselves differently in design applications yet still feel coherent. It goes on to say, “Consistency is still at the heart of a brand’s value, but in this fluid and agile world, repetition cannot be the only rule.”

Yes, brands need to have consistency & standards (for quality control), but one should question the purpose of those standards. Are they to oppress future designers with rigorous rules or to set the “pattern” in which a consumer should experience the brand? A great set standards shouldn’t micromanage but define the context in which the brand’s identity should be brought to life. Designing a visual language over setting rules gives a brand a more desirable human feel. Standards should define the visual playground but not exactly what the kids should wear every time they play.

A great analogy for that, as mentioned in the article above, is the English alphabet. It contains only 26 defined characters yet the Oxford English Dictionary contains 171,476 words. It is one of the most flexible yet coherent systems ever created.

A brand’s identity shouldn’t be restrained to strict rules, yet it shouldn’t free to roam wherever it wants. The goal is coherence rather than repetition.

This line of thinking reminds me of our awesome (I’m biased) new print collateral with a flexible system of stamps intended to be used in a variety of ways when applied.

One thought on “Rules & Regulations”

  1. Great article and points. Some seem to think the brand standards doc is meant to be rigid and remove all areas for sway. I’m of your thought. It should be dynamic enough to allow for a brand that has context, meaning and isn’t boring.

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