Rant mode activated. Look, branding is essential. By all means, have a strong brand with eight gauge stainless steel guidelines. So solid and rust-proof, your brand colors and logo always look amazing everywhere you use them. But don’t get adherence to your style guide confused with being effective at marketing.
Hear me out; you want brand consistency. You need it even. If you end up with ads, print collateral, business cards, or websites that look slightly off, people will get confused or may even question if it is your brand they are viewing. You don’t want that! But I think style guides can be distracting when used rigidly.
It can feel like you are doing everything right when you nitpick that hex color being a couple of characters off, but when you focus on that, instead of the messaging, you are missing the forest for the trees.
You will not move the needle on your marketing efforts by being a style guide nazi.
The hard work is creating effective marketing; creating effective marketing messaging is intangible and messy. I think that is the issue. We love rules because they make us feel like we are doing the right thing and making a palpable difference. We can at least measure the work if we color inside the lines. We can point to what we shipped and say it was exemplary. But it could be 100% on point with the guidelines and ultimately ineffective.
No business ever grew from $100,000 to $1 Million because everyone followed the style guide faithfully.
We all want success. We want growth. We want to share our message, our gift with as many people as possible. Sometimes that means putting aside the rote work of brand adherence and taking some risks. Not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but taking calculated risks within your guidelines.
Most importantly, it means focusing on the message first. Are you capturing the attention of your audience? Are you communicating your message effectively after you have their attention? Are you converting that attention into customers and brand ambassadors?
Once you nail the hard part, you can nitpick that style and make it perfect. Doing so too early can be a placebo distraction, making you feel like you are doing great work, but in the end, no one cares.