Transform Magazine: Going Beyond Guidelines and Brand Manuals – 2023

Tom Gilbert, Executive Creative Director of Design Bridge Shanghai, discusses alternative thinking and solutions to brand inconsistencies in media and sales channels that can harm brand governance.

Brand owners and brand designers share a common sense of sinking when they observe the brand they have invested so much love and attention into appearing inconsistently across multiple media and sales channels. Sure, it’s frustrating and demoralizing, but more importantly, it doesn’t help the brand reach its full potential.

In the world of marketing, the importance of creating a brand and its main structures is well understood; recognition and desirability, built from consistent and frequent positive emotional experiences with a brand, help fuel brand growth. Despite this, the surrounding ecosystem is becoming more and more complicated, leaving plenty of room for inconsistencies or potential negative experiences, and creating many challenges for those responsible for brand governance.

Current attempts to address these issues come in the form of brand guidelines or playbooks; gigantic documents outlining the branding strategy, how it turns into an identity, then rules and suggestions on how to use that strategy and identity system to your advantage – with maybe a few mock touchpoints on the 250th page. This method can work, but the larger the mark, the more difficult it is to regulate. Therefore, it is even more difficult for global brands that deal with locally nuanced markets and consumer behaviors.

Clearly there is a need for more thought in this space and alternative options to guidelines and playbooks. One idea is for brand agencies to invest more in the approach and talent needed to bring ideas to fruition. This would mean that brand teams would have a single point of contact and the support of a bespoke design team with a deep understanding of their brand. Not only would this make the process more reliable, but it would ensure that the brand comes to life in the hands and lives of consumers. Additionally, if the agency has talent with a deep understanding of each important market, it will help the brand be as globally consistent as possible while remaining locally relevant.

Global brand design agencies are well positioned to rise to the challenge, but are also aware that much more needs to be done to be a true partner that brand teams can rely on for global brand governance and consistent execution. in an omnichannel approach. As such, we must strive to strategically simplify the complexity of the challenges facing global brands. First, by identifying the unmet need of their consumers, both globally and locally, then designing a cohesive brand identity that can be used in all markets, and finally, creating cohesive and cohesive brand experiences. This is, in my opinion, the easiest way to ensure brand consistency and further growth.

To achieve this, we must recognize an internal need to continuously improve the skills of the teams, ensuring that they remain aware and informed of the multiple communication and sales channels. We also need to use a diverse team of talents, able to translate strategic ideas into real experiences; communication strategists and graphic designers are a must in any brand design agency, but to bring ideas to life we ​​also need to invest in industrial designers, CGI artists and animators, motion designers, UX/UI designers, software engineers and creative producers. . A fully trained multidisciplinary team capable of weaving a brand world of cohesive, relevant and timeless brand touchpoints, the very fabric of brand growth.

To go beyond brand guidelines and achieve a perfectly synchronized design system, we need to ensure that we deliver beyond expectations; establish a standard for brand touchpoints that can then be realistically replicated globally. This is achievable by hiring multi-talented, multi-cultural people all over the world with new and desirable skills. Ultimately, helping the brand roll out its concept both physically and virtually in a way that is globally consistent, yet locally relevant. It sounds complex, yes, but it’s achievable with the right partners and a determined but definitive vision of what’s right for the brand.