In defense of graphic identity guidelines, fonts, and creativity

An exciting, explosive athlete is appreciated precisely because he or she is able to perform amazing feats within the bounds of the game rules.

signs-1638668_1920If you work for an organization that controls its brand expression through graphic identity guidelines, how do you know when it is time to vary from those guidelines or to change them outright? What is the life cycle of a design template, a logo, a font family or a color palette?

Every designer or brand manager has run up against that question, and the answer isn’t a simple one, but having spent many years in the branding business let me share three arguments for why graphic identity guidelines should have long lifespans. Continue reading “In defense of graphic identity guidelines, fonts, and creativity”

Forced relationships, a fun brainstorm to begin the brand process


Is your company a Ford or a Ferrari? You might be surprised that your managers and employees aren’t on the same brand wagon.

This is an enjoyable way to begin the brand discussion with a group, using a forced relationship exercise. It generally creates good discussion and gets participants out of their normal frames of thought. The exercise is basically a technique of forcing yourself to think of your organization’s brand in terms of another product or industry. “If our company were an auto manufacturer, which would it be?” Since we often understand other companies’ brands better than our own, it is a means to start fresh in our thinking. I usually pick three from the list posted at the end of this article and spend about an hour on the discussion.

This technique, in various forms, is also known as a forced analogy, “How is my problem like a (insert random object).”

One approach in a forced analogy is to compare a problem or an organization to the various aspects of something else that is familiar to the participants. How is this similar to a shark’s teeth, a shark’s skin, a shark’s living environment, etc? Continue reading “Forced relationships, a fun brainstorm to begin the brand process”