Guidelines are just for guidance – give creativity a chance

It’s everywhere, it’s alive and it’s kicking. The Pacman of the design world – corporate guidelines – continue to gobble up creative design and innovation at every opportunity.

To the purist, corporate guidelines are a necessary standard to a brand foundation; to creative designers, they are a barrier to audience engagement.

I often question the rationale behind corporate guidelines as, in many cases, they create more problems than they solve. Guidelines are usually contrived by inhibited design consultancies seeking a purpose to exist, and are their primary raison d’être.

In my specific area of internal communication, for FTSE 250 companies, I continually have to over- come strict guidelines and regimented parameters to get key messages accepted and understood by, at best, less than enthusiastic employees. To have corp- orate ‘police’ whingeing at the same time about the absolute accuracy of margin width or the effective weight of a 0.5pt keyline adds absolutely no benefit and often waters down the important message employees need to understand.

The positive alternative, from my experience, is to create a design style that is sympathetic to the corporate guidelines, while also engaging with the target audience. The corporate brand guidelines remain on another level, while appropriate creative design and innovation can be explored to match the demands of the project.

Just think of the potential that would be released if the corporate police and their supporters relaxed their dogmatic stance on restrictive guidelines. From creative to client, there would be a new sense of purpose and a fresh attitude, and Pacman could finally get stuffed.

Stephen Willard, Design director, Shilling Communication, Liss GU33 6JQ

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