I was reminded of how important personal touch and style truly are when my wife and I recently started looking for new living room furniture. Like most things, the search started online - what style do we want, what will look really cool, what's trendy, etc. We found some amazing stuff, but in the end this is furniture that most likely we will spend several hours on each day, furniture that will host guests, furniture that will let the world know who we truly are. This started our multi-day task of trudging from one furniture store to the next. Yes, we looked at all the stores on the internet, but the obvious truth is that seeing a pretty picture online is not the same as seeing, touching, sitting on and smelling everything in person. It's funny, we soon realized that as much as we liked other styles it didn't fit us and our lifestyle. It's kind of like we have a brand and our main goal was to make the brand stronger - maybe a little update (a refresher) not create a whole new brand that isn't who we truly are.
Finally, we settled on what we wanted - believe me we aren't done. It's going to be an never ending process to complete the room (you know rugs, unique tables, lamps, etc.). This is how you should see your brand. Have a plan and don't be afraid to constantly tweak and change it to make it the best it can be (a never ending process). Too often we get that Rooms To Go approach - walk in - look around - "yeah I like everything in that display. I'll take it." It's delivered to your house the next day and for the next 10 years you have the exact same living room as 50,000 other people. There is no passion, no ownership, nothing that tells the world who you are. By bringing forward your brand's personality and allowing the public to have a connection is worthy. Brand standards are great, but they shouldn't dictate change (or a lack of change for that matter) or else you'll find yourself a decade down the road asking "why does our brand look so outdated?"
As a designer, I actually don't mind restrictions as long as it's for the good of the brand and the brand message. Besides the obvious logo development, advertising, packaging, interior spaces and signage there are other elements like annual reports, brochures or even websites that are all important aspects to a brand and at the onset of each project the purpose and use should be assessed. It's also worth assessing how this could evolve the brand. At times, I've worked with organizations that have very little or no brand consistency and as much as I like to say it's a good thing to start with a blank canvas, it never turns out that way. What it truly says is there has never been a point when someone has wanted to take the time, energy and money to develop an overall plan to begin with. This creates the usual challenges of not enough money, not enough time and not enough devotion to do it right. With limited budgets and limited time, it is possible to make your brand better with each project and build that consistency that needs to be there - it takes time and most importantly, it takes thought. Soon I'll find myself sitting in a refreshed living room and hopefully I'll be thinking about how we can make your brand better.