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”

The Pony Sheet – how to develop your brand and ride it

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“With that much horse manure,” she exclaimed, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

Here’s a useful tool for how to develop a brand, leading your team through the brand discovery process. I’m including it here with relatively little explanation, as most of it is Branding 101 stuff. It isn’t brain surgery, but it takes skill and diligence to pull together a successful brand strategy in actual practice.

The name Pony Sheet came from the old story about the young girl whose parents took her out to the barn on her birthday and announced, “We have a big birthday surprise for you.” Opening the door, she spied a huge pile of horse manure in the middle of the floor, a rather disappointing sight. Yet being a young optimist (most children are), the lass clapped her hands with joy. “With that much horse manure,” she exclaimed, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

In discussing what is a brand with executives, I use the pony story to illustrate the long, often frustrating process of digging through mounds of information and piles of attributes that everyone thinks must be included in the brand. At some point, it seems much like digging through a mound of horse manure, but with diligent effort, I can promise that eventually, we will discover the pony.

Continue reading “The Pony Sheet – how to develop your brand and ride it”