Monday, September 7, 2009

Organisational communications - are there boundaries?

Here's a deliberation on which I spend at least a few moments each day. While sitting inside the communications control tower I wonder how much control or slack should people be allowed while preparing their own written and/or audiovisual communications for the organisation.

I remember the days when Ford Motor Company employed people who, during northern hemisphere winters in particular, would circulate through the antipodean operations in Australia to check on the use/misuse of the corporate logo - including the special blue mixed in vast quantities by our contracted printers (for pre-digital era readers, this was when the corporate logo was a flat blue, not the 3D rendered work of art it is today).

Nowadays, I see communications material emerge from some of the largest corporations in all types of layouts, approximations of the corporate colour palette and, the thing I most detest, a kaleidoscope of fonts. And just don't get me started on poorly written copy!

But where should the boundaries of brand discipline be drawn? Has the corporate style guide gone to the great typesetter (what's that?) in the sky? When you're in charge of brand and you try to instill discipline, the operations, legal and other techno-geeks regard you as, at worst, some sort of fascist or, if you get off lightly, very uncool or a 'freak' (younger workforce reference here).

In the days when "txt rulz n, omg, u old pps r so lame", there is not even time to fully spell out words, the idea of inflexible guidelines around use of graphics is so yesterday. So what are the new rules about the visual and textual management of brand presentation?

And even more to the point, do your employer or clients even think it's important enough to ensure that their entire organisation buys into the need for these 'arcane' disciplines? If not, how do you go about setting the rules of visual and editorial engagement?

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