(I am talking about the visual brand – the voice & tone is another issue entirely)
I spend a lot of time convincing people as to the importance of following Oregon State’s brand identity guidelines. I’m a true follower-if for no reason other than I am lazy and want the way-more-talented designers and site builders do the work for me.
But also I believe every good site we publish that adheres to our guidelines is a chance for us to deliver on our brand promise, and amplify the awesome work that Oregon State does. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not thrown for a loop when faculty, staff, or students argue with me that they can’t possibly follow the branding guidelines for very important reasons.
I thought I’d list the most common arguments that I hear and how I respond to them. I’d like this to be a useful post for all web workers on campus, so let me know if you have faced arguments and how you encourage and convince people to follow our brand identity.
- The content is what’s important on a site and what needs to set the site apart. Not boring content equals a not boring site.
- That “cool” feature is actually not accessible to anyone using a screen reader, with visual difficulties, etc. Our OSU-branded websites have been evaluated for accessibility! Direct them to the Web Accessibility guidelines.
- Following the branding guidelines means fewer decisions about design, color, and placement.
Argument: “But I don’t want it to look like an OSU site for reasons!”
- Are you using OSU resources, money, or people? Then it stands to reason that the website should be an OSU-branded property. (This occasionally backfires if it’s a joint research project. See Co-branding guidelines for more details.)
- Using a OSU branded website instantly communicates to your stakeholders that this is an authoritative, official website. Provides credibility and authority that your name may not deliver.
Argument: “Why is this important? Why do you keep talking about it, come on!”
- This website needs to uphold OSU reputation and promise to its stakeholders. One way of doing this is branding it correctly.
- Our unified look allows us to speak with one powerful voice – across Oregon, the US and beyond.
- Every website we create is another opportunity for us to emphasize what OSU stands for and what makes OSU special. Let’s do it!
Final Argument: “Ok well….I’m still going to do this awesome onmouseover event that breaks everything.”
Counter with: “As an employee of Oregon State, I follow branding guidelines. I will be unable to help you create this site.”
It is so, so hard to draw the hard line, but 9 times out of ten they’ll back down and realize that if they want help, brand guidelines it is!
What arguments have you used?