Up 4 Discussion: A Request For Branding “Enforcement” Strategies

From Shara

For the last two and a half years, I’ve been apart of the in-house design team for a non-profit org undergoing a rebranding initiative. While we’ve met much success in our external communication efforts, we are turning our attention towards internal renegades who still think clip art is okay for internal fliers. As the new Branding Coordinator, or art director, I am making presentations to departments and reaching out to these brand offenders and it’s become apparent that many of them don’t know what we do or what we offer.

It’s clear that we need some sort of marketing or self promotion piece to put an end to publisher newsletters and the comic sans epidemic. Has anyone faced a similar problem? Any suggestions for a newbie? I would like to establish a brand review committee to educate someone in each dept. about design and police the brand but first I think attention should be on marketing our capabilities. Thoughts and suggestions are MUCH appreciated.

6 thoughts on “Up 4 Discussion: A Request For Branding “Enforcement” Strategies

  1. Heather

    I am currently working for an in-house corporate marketing team supporting a non-profit. The design team has been in existence for 5 years now and we are still trying to fight the clip art/comic sans battle. Even with compliance standards in place, those not in our field don’t seem to recognize or appreciate the value of branding. My best and only suggestion is to educate senior management and team leads, remove unapproved materials and provide appropriate replacements.

  2. Chad

    From one newbie to another, the backlash against internal branding can be strong. Be careful. I like the idea of getting someone from each department involved, if it can be a senior manager, that is great. My team did not do this as well as we should have. Our guidelines were in place and a feedback channel was available. The concept was to make communication easier, however, we came across as a being a bit heavy-handed. The initial grumbling grew. We became a negative distraction. Now my job is much more delicate and difficult. Good luck.

  3. Junkie1

    Document everything and be prepared to repeat yourself. Okay, something a tad less snarky, perhaps?

    Here’s an easy three step approach:
    1. Create friendly brand standards guides, loaded with visuals.
    2. Take those guides and build a solid presentation.
    3. Hold informational meeting with as many small groups as possible.

    Don’t count anyone out. When it comes to branding, everyone should be educated to give your organization a stronger foundation. Holding smaller meetings to discuss branding so you can hold everyone’s attention–these will be better still if you can provide specific examples of the benefits of this effort for each particular group.

    Also, walk the walk. Spread your new brand around internally with the same amount of vigor that your external push receives. Last thing, make it easy! Providing templates, usage guides, etc. will help conformity take hold quicker.

    If all else fails, get the senior management to agree to establish a brand policy that includes some sort of enforcement plan for offenders.

  4. Rob Corwin

    It’s not a quick fix, but I think the answer to the problem is to create a cultural shift within the organization toward proper brand thinking. Rather than focusing on offenders, I’d recognize the behaviors you want to encourage. If you want folks to get on the bus, make the bus the cool place to be.

    I’ve had success in several environments doing this through simple “brand champion” programs. At my last firm, we started this program by creating an eye-catching thank you card that explained our approach to branding. When we noticed someone implement our branding correctly, they got a card. When someone took the time to reach out for guidance on our branding, they got a card. If we expected someone to go rogue on a project, they got a preemptive “we look forward to working together” card.

    The card was highly visible and designed as a keepsake. As employees began to notice the cards in colleagues’ offices, they would start to think about what they could do to earn one. The program was simple and cheap and just a start, but it definitely shifted momentum in the right direction.

    For a sample of the card mentioned above, please see my portfolio under “Brand Reinforcement: Heller Ehrman”


    Rob Corwin
    San Francisco, CA

  5. Mel

    2010/04/15 at 9:36am
    This is a problem we have also faced over the years and as people come and go it continues to rear it’s ugly head! I’ve worked in a non-profit design department for about 14 years and we have to continually promote our services. This year we had a design open house, it was a great way to show off our work and let internal clients see just what our capabilities are. I believe that most of the time internal clients are not intentionally going around us, they just don’t understand how to utilize a design department or maybe don’t even realize they can! Keep out front.

    We also have a process in place where all communications need to be signed off by someone in the design department, if the design are not to brand you can make suggestions before they are released. Eventually this becomes the norm and internal communications are no longer created in some design/layout program with awful 80’s clip art! Good luck!

  6. Andrea

    I was at a non-profit for almost 4 years, and as the only designer, I didn’t have much time to reflect on this predicament.

    Maybe it was the easy way out, but I just created whatever they needed, including (awesome!) templates they could type into using Word.

    They were all very appreciative and turned to me for more and more projects…both big and tiny. Yes, I was busy. But it’s better than being bored. TRUST ME.