Commentary

When Co-Workers Go Rogue: How to Guard Your Brand

As the number of channels and the volume of content grows, it's increasingly difficult to guard your company’s valuable brand. Product managers send out company-wide emails announcing their (completely off-brand) Medium blog post. CFOs build their own presentations for board meetings (which is all sorts of wrong).

In the short term, well-intentioned employees slowly erode brand consistency by designing things themselves or outsourcing to their personal freelance network. Eventually, these deviations snowball and can cost your organization its hard-earned brand equity and market position.

Data shows that design has a direct impact on business performance. With content as king and more distribution channels, there are more places to go off-brand, especially design-wise.

In our experience, we’ve identified three stereotypes to look out for when you’re playing goalie for your brand:

The Info Crammer

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The Info Crammer is a subject expert, with an advanced degree and a facility for numbers.

She is excited to display the mountain of data she’s unearthed. All of the data -- on one single sheet. 

The Info Crammer’s presentation is on the company’s minimalist one-pager template, but believes it to be too minimalist. She halves the font size cited in the guidelines. Where the template specifies one diagram per headline, she’ll use three -- and the colors don’t match.

Endless datasets, a lack of visuals and loads of information will guarantee a mind-numbing presentation, often failing to emphasize key points. 

How to handle The Info Crammer: 

With one-pagers, less is more. Humans are innately visual. Our brains process visual information better than any other type of data. In a quick review of brand style, steer the Info Crammer from spreadsheets and bulleted lists to data visualizations (like sleek charts) that help tell stories. 

The Quirky Improver

The Quirky Improver is a highly creative, nonconformist spirit who adds knick-knacks to his cubicles’ perimeter or paints household items in unexpected colors. 

Tasked with creating an important presentation for the company all-hands, the Quirky Improver decides that the layout will feel less authoritarian if it breaks the specified brand guideline grid, with a new, “carefree” color palette. This DIY ethic can easily unravel all of marketing’s efforts to present a unified brand identity. 

How to handle The Quirky Improver: 

The Quirky Improver yearns to contribute, so waiting until it’s too late can be disastrous. Be proactive and discuss why brand guidelines are put in place and how to stick to them. If there aren’t up-to-date brand guidelines, now is the time to create them.

The Rogue Director

The Rogue Director, despite leading the team, is either too busy or too special for brand guidelines and fancies himself a deck designer. If this offender produced a fundraising presentation, for example, it contains some or all of these ingredients: Extra! Exclamation! Points! Comic Sans typeface. Horrid corporate stock photography. Not to mention technical industry jargon that detracts from the presentation.

How to handle The Rogue Director: 

If your director isn’t adhering to brand guidelines, who will? Take charge. Schedule a meeting to present the big picture, and underscore the importance of maintaining the brand’s equity and integrity. Emphasize the “what’s in it for you” angle. 

Lead the charge 

The font in your presentation; the colors in your one-pager; the layout of your infographic: these everyday design details matter. It’s the responsibility of the brand champion to ensure that the entire organization is trained and adheres to brand guidelines. And if your organization lacks a brand guide, right now is the time to start. 

After all, a brand is a promise to the customer -- and the best ones keep it.

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