Paul Gander’s review of the evolution of brand manuals (MW October 14) from rigid design guidelines to visual representations of brand values fails to highlight the true potential of such documents to serve as an essential strategic resource for the brand team. Maintaining visual coherence across the brand’s tangible manifestations, such as pack and point of sale, is a hygiene factor – the real value of brand books, guides or manuals is to define the essence of the brand in terms that those managing it can work with – using both words and pictures.
The examples he uses are elegant reproductions of the brand in visual form, but they miss the more valuable long-term application of the brand manual as a blueprint for the future development of the brand. Visually stunning shrines to the brand may superficially communicate a brand relaunch internally, but they lack the detail required to assist the brand guardians in making day-to-day decisions and risk tying the brand to a particular campaign.
Only when developed collaboratively with input from those involved in strategic, as well as executional elements of the brand, can brand manuals really make a difference. This means moving forward from simply monitoring the brand’s message to a more proactive role in unlocking the brand’s core values as the basis for informing the brand’s development across all elements of the mix, from pack to people.