Singing the old standards …

Everybody loves structure – a place for everything and everything in its place (at least, that’s what we talk about at our weekly OCD club meetings). So certainly, the idea of structure has its place within the concept of brand development. After all, we have brand architecture, brand guidelines, graphic standards – all kinds of things to help us maintain discipline and manage the brand.

So then why have I been bristling lately when it comes to graphic standards? Shouldn’t I be elated? Shouldn’t I be espousing the beauty of grids and image use? Shouldn’t I be reveling in the joy of a definitive color palate and headline font?

I should, but lately I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to – it’s just that it’s become apparent that graphic standards are never put together with employment marketing in mind.

As discussed previously, there is a direct relation between ubiquity and breakthrough. There is also a direct relation between ubiquity and funding. You can’t achieve the former without lots of the latter. This is usually not an issue with product or service brands. But it is an issue with employer brands. Which means employer brands are more dependent on breakthrough in order to rise above the noise.

But graphic standards are created with the product, service, or corporate brand in mind, not the employer brand. That means they are more likely than not to be rather unremarkable, containing one or two elements at the most that might be mildly adventurous. It’s usually not an issue from a non-employment standpoint because with a significant budget, you too can “own” those rather unremarkable elements.

Not so with employer brands. Those elements blend into the background quicker than beige on taupe. And with it go your opportunities to break out.

The solution? Employment marketers need a seat at the corporate brand table. This way the rules, standards, and guidelines can become effective for the entire organization, not just part of it.


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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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