Library Groundbreaking Ceremony & Corporate Identity Logo Oversight

Tuesday

Quarter page event invitation.
One of our newest library branches celebrated with a groundbreaking event in March. Cone Park Branch library is just over a year old and has been housed in a mobile home-like unit until its permanent building is constructed. The groundbreaking event marked the beginning of the next phase in its branch history. 

Event program front / back.

For help promote the event, I was asked to design an invitation, program, and web banner. When the branch library was first opened in 2011, I designed grand opening promotional materials that coupled the image of a rainbow with a architectural blueprint and drafting materials to support a theme of "Building the Dream" ( http://librarygraphicdesign.blogspot.com/2011/12/cone-park-library-branch-grand-opening.html ). For this new groundbreaking ceremony, I extended that reference further by using the same rainbow integrated into the a shovel's handle. I also used a strong, cheerful orange background to relate to other recently developed marketing materials (welcome brochure http://librarygraphicdesign.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-evolution-of-library-welcome.html , library employee recruitment posters http://librarygraphicdesign.blogspot.com/2012/10/four-posters-derived-from-welcome.htmland presentation folder http://librarygraphicdesign.blogspot.com/2013/03/library-presentation-pocket-folder.html ).

Event sign and detail view.
After the event, I received photos to post to the library Flickr account (www.flickr.com/acld). I was shocked and dismayed to see a large sign with a logo (aka "brandmark") on it that had been created for the event. The sign used the library's logo...or rather I should say part of the logo correctly and another part incorrectly. I wondered how this could be. Did someone send the sign fabricator the brandmark exactly as it appeared on the sign or perhaps only the book portion of the mark was sent, leaving the sign fabricator to recreate the typography? Either way, what resulted was simply wrong. Worse yet, how is it that nobody noticed except for me?

Our library has two main versions of its brandmark, a book that can be used alone or in combination with its library descriptor ("Alachua County Library District") centered underneath the book. An alternate brandmark displays the book to the left with the library name flush to the right in two lines with a tagline hanging to the right below the library name. Those are the two main "lock-ups" of how the text and book image are to appear. The only variations to those marks are to change the colours to full black, full white, or full blue. The mark on the event sign used incorrect fonts, font sizes and font colours. It also presented a bastardized arrangement of the two different mark lock-ups. I was none too happy about it. After all, how could the library not get its own logo right?  

You would be surprised at how often this happens in the semi-corporate world where employees aren't adequately trained to embody, reinforce, or even advocate for "the brand" of their organization. Some organizations are good at it; most are not. As an extension to this kind of training, the same is true even for the use of the organization's visual identity. 

In Journalism 101 one of very the first "golden rules" students are taught is that the worst mistake you can ever make as a journalist is to incorrectly spell a person's name (plagiarism no doubt leads the list of worst offenses). There are similar "golden rules" to follow in other industries. In the design profession, an equivalent rule is to not bastardize a company's corporate visual identity brandmark unless doing so is considered allowable within the corporate identity standards policy.

A good thing (if one can presume to adequately leverage that sentiment in their favour) is that if the logo isn't bastardized too much it will most likely still be recognizable to a familiar, yet otherwise clueless public. The flip side of that oversight, however, is that if the company's own people can't recognize that mistake, then the situation should be incredibly disconcerting.

I share that sentiment because the people who work for a company and are most likely to see its brandmark every day and should be the ones who would most easily recognize whether or not it is correct or not. Not only that, but they should also be the very same people who should help by being brand advocates for its proper usage. As a maker of corporate identity standards and the guidelines that establish best practices for the usage of a brandmark, of course I understand that I'm in one of the best positions to realise the good and bad points of a visual mark, of its technical and aesthetic limitations, and of its misuse. I can also appreciate that others wouldn't be as knowledgeable or keen to observe these finer details. But there are certain changes to a brandmark that should be glaringly obvious.

So on occasion I find myself in the role of "brand identity advocate." Whenever I see the visual identity of my library has been used incorrectly, I search out the offending party to inform them that they have incorrectly used it. More often than not, the offending party had no idea the brandmark was used improperly. If they had, or if they had been more sensitive to its use, they most likely wouldn't have used it incorrectly. I inquire about how the improper use happened in order to understand how we can work toward averting the same scenario from happening in the future. 

Through what advocacy I can offer, I hope to educate staff on the proper manner of using our library's corporate identity system consistency so the integrity of the brand mark will remain uncompromised and better able to ensure public recognition. It may not mean much to others, but it means something to me. Proper brandmark usage; you might say that I'm building a dream of my own.
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