We develop brand and visual identity guidelines for many of our clients. We also have decades of experience working within the confines of rigorously policed brand guidelines for national and international organisations. Time and again we have witnessed new marketing execs getting frustrated as they attempt to make an impression on an immovable visual identity. Also experienced brand marketers become disillusioned as they constantly battle the approval process. Here are our tips on how to find a way around these obstacles and keep your campaigns and communications fresh.


Get to know the visual identity back to front

It is sometimes as important to know what isn’t in the visual identity guidelines as what is in them. It is also vital the creative partner you choose has a passion for finding loopholes and ideas of what to do with them. You will be amazed how much the little details can make a job feel inventive. Arm yourself with the knowledge that allows you to make reasoned and thorough arguments to the approval team. Sometimes your creative partner will know more about your visual identity than you do. It’s great to get them and new marketing team members together to have a brand guidelines immersion.


Dealing with an off-the-wall brief

What if you have a brief that sits outside what is covered in the brand guidelines? It can be difficult to pre-empt how far you can change the visual identity of the campaign and still get sign-off. We would suggest giving the job extra time to allow you and your creative team to thrash out multiple options sensitive to the spirit of the guidelines. We’ve seen the results of these types of jobs being adopted into a company’s visual identity, giving more scope for future campaigns.


Patience is a virtue

It is useful to remember that although you may be saturated with the look and feel of your brand, your consumer is probably not. It used to be thought getting your visual identity in front of a customer seven times stimulated interaction. The current thinking is that it requires many more touch points than that. So you may well be tired of seeing the same colours and images everyday, but it’s likely your customers are only just beginning to identify them with you.


Innovate at the edges

What to do when you feel like you have tried every avenue to make your campaigns sing out from the rest of your communications? You’re not alone, we have seen marketers going through this time and again. Try the following:

  • Refresh the tone of voice – changing the energy behind the words you use can be invigorating
  • Change the format or platform your communications occupy – designing for a different space stimulates different solutions
  • Update your pool of imagery – if you use stock photography try a different provider, commission a shoot or use illustration instead.
    “A visual identity should be a springboard not a straightjacket” Tim Greenhill


    Recognising when it time to refresh

    There comes a time when even the sharpest knife gets blunt. Time moves on and a visual identity gets tired or out-dated. It’s time to tell the story in a more contemporary, relevant and engaging way.

    Now this doesn’t mean changing everything, the core tenants of the brand may still be the same. A refresh could be simply a review of how the visual identity will be used going forward, the introduction of a new colour pallet, fresh imagery or illustrations and how all those things will sit next to, or replace, the existing visual identity.

    It is important to do some research, ask your customers what their perception of the company is, how would they like to engage with you in the future and how they feel about you. When faced with some irrefutable evidence that things need to change, even the most resistant or frugal of leadership teams can be persuaded.

    We hope these tips help you to navigate the line between being creative and ticking the visual identity box. Why not visit our Alliance Healthcare or Fidessa case studies to see how we keep things fresh over the long term.

    If you are battling with your visual identity guidelines why not give us a call?

    Obliterating indifference since 1987