Asli Sonceley & Team
STYLE GUIDES AS EVOLVING PRODUCTS
STYLE GUIDES CONNECT THE CHAPTERS OF THE BRAND STORY
Zooming out over the course of time, we can understand the role style guides play in the larger battle. Over the course of each year, Greenpeace launches campaigns continuously. Globally sometimes Save The Arctic will be in the spotlight, and sometimes the Great Northern Forest will gain voice.
Think of how our favorite TV shows come back to air after a few months of break. As soon as we start seeing posters and trailers of Game of Thrones, or House of Cards our brains start pulling from memory what happened in earlier seasons. The idea here is that the stories of saving the Arctic, standing for forests and thriving oceans can also develop this way. Greenpeace campaigns are not the only content that people will come across, in their social feeds, emails, news etc.
Familiar visual cues help supporters connect the dots between what happened before and what’s at stake now.
STYLE GUIDES SOLVE PROCESS PROBLEMS FOR SILOED TEAMS
The advantage of working with an organization and its different teams over a long period of time is witnessing their evolution. In this relationship, there is opportunity to improve upon the deliverables on each project, while staying true to the purpose.
Across all these projects, our first and foremost goal was to empower campaigners to create unified and effective messages. As a UX agency, especially working with tight knit and transparent entrepreneurial teams, we walked into these projects with ambition to learn from all stakeholders' experience.
We saw style guides as digital products, utilized by an entire community of people who are doing this in defense of the environment.
When interactive style guides were put to work by so many different offices, all over the world, it proved they were time savors. Especially for offices that didn't have the budget and resources to hire graphic designers or agencies to launch polished and effective messages. Campaigners have been able to focus on the story and messaging, while visual tools took on the burden of brand recognition. Ultimate result is more successful campaigns and messages that stick in the minds of audiences.
In the future, branding at global organizations will become even more process oriented. Not only an instrument of the marketing department that outputs messages for the audience, but the framework to the entire organization's internal processes.
Let's revisit the three main challenges we mentioned previously:
1. Complexity and volume of content. Many benefits in product(s) or service(s) offering dictates the amount of content to be created.
2. A broad target audience who won't budge unless the brand can click with them on their individual wavelength.
3. Multiple brand representatives. From the executive level to direct to customer relationship level. Not all branches have access to the same budget and resources.
At scale, a top to bottom approach becomes harder and harder to execute and get effective results in connecting with audiences.
In our experience, the people who understand these dynamics the best tend to be CMOs and Product Managers. One takes the pulse of the audience and continuously searches for effective ways of communicating with them. The other builds the best possible experience for this audience.
They can also see disruptors coming. Fast. Especially marketing departments can become a bridge across all departments. They energize companies. They are more outgoing towards sales teams, engineering teams, even training and HR teams, proactive in initiating transparent and collaborative ways of working. On the other hand product people play a balancing act between the bottom line business goals, what customers really want and what’s the idealist thing to do.
We see these roles spearheading global brands' digital transformation, and surviving through the pressures of de-globalization. For those brands that will adapt and stay relevant, internal branding experience will feature visual aids such as style guides as we know it or as above. Evolved style guides will help teams manage communication assets, apply new methodologies and tools in the digital space. Content creation process is already tightly dependent on a growing set of digital products in social media management, SEO, SEM tools, ad stacks, CRM systems, data analytics software, management and productivity tools.
The style of operating all of the above, will become the new Style Guide.
This thinking is applicable to companies with siloed marketing teams and brand representatives across the globe:
Franchise operations in need of consistency and quality of brand voice applied at the local level.
Brand conglomerates looking to find a common voice across unique products.
Acquired products going through brand mergers.
Digital platforms expanding to new markets via hyper-targeted value offering.
FUTURE ITERATIONS ON STYLE GUIDES
1. Apps that create social media posts, stories on the go.
Similar to photo sharing apps with style guide elements built-in.
Can be used internally by the organization and host multiple style guides at admin level. Or open to general public, for fans, activists, customers to generate branded content.
We imagined this to be applicable to events, campaigns, consumer brands, franchises.
3. Cross-department playbooks
Utilized as an internal marketing tool at organizations, to onboard, train, unite over vision and collaborate upon goals.
1. Launch products and campaigns - Visual and Linguistic Style Guides
2. Track results/data - CRM, Data Analytics and Reports
3. See what everyone else is doing, communicate, inspire - Collaboration and Communication Tools
4. Evolve - Updates and Style Guides
Custom guides that merge and guide the utilization of other tools and enterprise solutions integrated into the teams' process.
Sales & Biz Dev
THE AGE OF THE BOTTOM UP BRAND
In a climate of information overload and complex interconnectedness, modern societies seem to be on the brink of emotional breakdown. Established mechanisms that wire the planet together in epic ways, are being shaken down to the core. International organizations who are the biggest stakeholders of globalization are being disrupted left and right by the new wave of Internet Entrepreneurship. Additionally the rising "protectionism," building of literal or invisible walls in the political and economic space is, well, freaking everyone out.
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos this year, speakers touched frequently upon the effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. "True leadership in a complex, uncertain, and anxious world requires leaders to navigate with both a radar system and a compass," Klaus Schwab, Founder of WEF writes. "They must be receptive to signals that are constantly arriving from an ever-changing landscape, and they should be willing to make necessary adjustments; but they must never deviate from their true north, which is to say, a strong vision based on authentic values."
Cause driven organizations are naturally aligned with this type of leadership. The question is how will global and profit-driven brands adapt their ways? Global organizations are at a crossroads: they either crumble or adapt gracefully to interconnectedness.
In today's world, a brand is no longer a mighty kingdom but a conglomerate of individual touch points with its audience that makes up a whole. Brand communications is going to survive in the age of protectionism by leveraging tools globalization has brought to our door.
The good news is audiences, especially new generations are well attuned to interconnectedness. Organizations are the ones that need to catch up. Brands will take cues from their local presence, build and change from the ground up. This will allow organizations of all sizes to awaken and clearly see the impact they have on the world.
Servant brands will build their identity and vision with a two-way funnel informed and inspired by its audience. Balance between data informed decisions and human feedback will wire siloed teams together. Organic evolution of brands will be fueled with efficient processes.
The opportunity to achieve a more peaceful and inclusive world has never been so big. In graceful adaptation, there is a prize to win for businesses, societies and our Planet.
Asli Sonceley & Team Fake Crow
Thank You Kindly
Greenpeace members (past and present)
The crew at Fake Crow
Even Deeper Reads