(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.

Most common argument: “But it’s boring!” usually followed by showing me something terrible for accessibility with Javascript rollovers and the like.

Counter with:

  • 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!” 

Counter with:

  • 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!”

Counter with:

  • 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?