Branding is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued aspects of a business, abused even. Stretched logos, colorful borders in eblasts, Comic Sans in business emails, all-out creative Powerpoints with all the bells & whistles. It’s time for
In a previous position years ago it became known to my co-worker and I that emails were being sent out through a separate system that not only lacked our branding but included creative elements that made us look very unprofessional. Around the same time, our sales team almost left for an industry summit with stolen stock images throughout their PowerPoint, with watermarks all over them. The Powerpoint was saved in time, but my coworker and I decided we had to brief all of our coworkers on our brand. As we stood before them during one of our company meetings, I asked, “What would Apple do?” This was my version of, “What would Jesus do?” but for business professionals. Would Apple, or any large professional corporation out there, allow their employees to customize outgoing material to their personal taste?
I get it!
It’s not easy to represent a company all the time; employees try to personalize what they can, however, there’s a difference in adding framed cats to your cubicle and sending out emails to business partners with, well, a picture of your cat added to your email signature (figurative or literal). The rules are the same for office personnel, storefront salespeople, and design team professionals – a company email, signage, or social media post are not personal art pieces, they represent your company’s brand.
Every e-blast, signage, or web page is not personal artwork. Don’t get “designy”. There’s no need to add a personal touch. Keep it professional. Stick to the BRAND.
Now, as a design professional, once you know the brand, and stick to the brand, you can get creative. There are certain design elements that need to be in place, and then there are brand variables. A brand can have many flavors, and take on a different look for separate marketing campaigns. Parent brand, child brands, right? You never completely venture outside the main brand but explore the creative possibilities that fit within.
In all my experience working with marketing material, none has set the standard as high as Disney. While it’s hard to market Disney as an affiliate I commend them for sticking to the brand. If you don’t take branding or copyright standards very serious, Disney will correct your view once you work with their material. They generously provide marketing material and photos to their affiliates, but the specifications on how to use them, where to use them, and what copy to attach, are all outlined.
Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruiselines
While Disney provides all the marketing material an affiliate can use, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian provide design professionals with strict Branding Guidelines that outline all the specifics, including temporary campaign brands. What hero images to use where, what color scheme goes with what, how to achieve the correct look in InDesign with opacity percentages applied to blending modes…well, you get it. It’s quite helpful, actually, as opposed to some smaller companies giving you no material or guidelines at all. You’re left to do your own research. So to Royal Caribbean and Norwegian – you rock! (Pun?)