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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Building Brand Consistency: Materials Checklist

As a graphic designer, I work with clients that range in size from a few people to tens of thousands. If you are reading this, you probably work for an organization somewhere in between. No matter what size your company is, you need a cohesive system that simplifies marketing and communications while building your brand. Implementation is always more difficult in large companies -- there are more people who need to understand the importance of branding standards, more people who are resistant to change and more people who really don't care about any of it. It's easier to get all five employees in on the same page than all 5,000.

Small or large, high quality consistent design is imperative to the success of a company. Actually, I have seen great success with poor-quality consistent design. I was recently in Las Vegas, and for those of you who have never been, Las Vegas is at once a creative Mecca and cesspool. On every sidewalk, every ten feet, someone in a smock is handing out cards. The cards are poorly printed, cheap, loud and ugly. With a photo of an excessively proportional, mostly naked woman on the front and an 800 number, I bet these cards get a higher response rate than all the design work I've ever done and will ever do in my life. At the other extreme is the incredibly well designed digital wine list at Aureole Restaurant, a posh restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Customers use a tablet PC with a stylus to touch through wine characteristics (red or white, dry or sweet, cheap or the cost of a yacht, etc.). Rather than an ungainly wine manuscript that would include Aureole's 10,000 bottles, the process is efficient, beautiful and fits perfectly into the restaurant's style and theme. Whether quick and dirty or slick and high-tech, both systems work for their specific audiences (which, only in Vegas, is the same audience).

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