Corporate and product guidelines have been in place for a long time. But guidelines can be used for other purposes as well. Take the case of one of our clients — Z Corporation (now part of 3D Systems).
Z Corporation produces 3D printers that build three-dimensional models. These models are incredibly precise, allowing architects, engineers, designers, and other professionals to develop more ideas and innovation, and to communicate it better and faster. Recently, the marketing department created a slogan — Create more™ — to promote the power and benefits of their products. By adding words after Create more, this dynamic slogan becomes even more powerful: Create more innovation; Create more communication; Create more ideas. And so on.
The Create more slogan uses a specifc font colors. The marketing department took great care to consistently apply the slogan to a range of marketing materials. Employees outside the marketing department also began adding the slogan to materials, including PowerPoint presentations and emails. But without clear directions to guide them, the slogan was sometimes misapplied. The result was an inconsistent use of the slogan, which threatened to undermine the overall effectiveness of the campaign.
Before things got out of control, Z Corporation asked for our help. We developed a set of guidelines to:
• explain why the slogan was developed and how it ties into the company’s broader goals.
• provide a set of rules on how to correctly create the slogan and apply it to materials.
• provide examples of the slogan being used in a range of applications, from PowerPoint presentations to coffee mugs.
The final guidelines were created as an easy-to-distribute PDF in a horizontal, 8.5 x 11 inch format so it could be easily viewed on screen or printed if needed.
When creating guidelines, four important rules are:
• Explain the reasons behind the guidelines. Instead of simply giving people a set of rules to blindly follow, take the time to explain the rationale behind the guidelines. People are more willing to comply with rules if they understand the reasons behind them. In this case, we explained how the Create more slogan fits into the overall Z Corporation brand, how the slogan would be used, and why it was important to use it correctly.
• Make it easy to understand and use. The harder guidelines are to read, the less likely people will be inclined to use them. For Z Corporation, making it easy to understand and use as a quick reference tool was particularly important because unlike most sets of guidelines that are designed for use only by marketing and design professionals, these guidelines are intended to be used by all employees, most of who are unfamiliar with standards guides.
• Provide lots of samples. Samples help people visualize what they need to do to conform to standards. We included samples of the logo in PowerPoint slides, ads, and coffee mugs. We even included a sample of how it would appear at the end of an email and included specs so emails would look consistent throughout the company.
• Make it easy to implement. In addition to guidelines, provide tools that make it easier for people to implement whatever it is you want them to do. These tools can include logo files, templates (e.g. PowerPoint, Word, InDesign), and specific graphics or images. In
Z Corporation’s case, electronic files of the Create more logo in different formats were made accessible.