If you work in communications, then you’ve probably had that special moment when you discovered the organization's brand isn’t as consistent as you had believed. Perhaps a colleague designed a flyer and decided to change the colors of the logo. Or maybe someone decided using five different fonts was a way to convey, “Fun!”
It can be difficult keeping everyone in your office on brand. But imagine for a moment that you have to be the brand cop for two dozen offices. How do you keep your brand consistent across that many locations when you’re not personally creating all the materials?
That was the problem the YMCA of Greater New York asked us to help solve when they had a new brand identity to roll out. The Y is already a household name, so it anticipated rolling out a new look consistently across its branches required careful coordination. The difficulty was that each location is responsible for creating signage updating members on events and schedule changes. Further complicating things is that not all teams have access to or the knowledge of how to use design software.
Our challenge was to create templates that could easily be used by people of varying skill levels while retaining their professional look. Ease-of-use was vital to getting the branches’ buy-in, and the simplest tool was the ubiquitous Microsoft Word. While it’s not our first choice for designing flyers, many people happily use it for all sorts of design projects. And because it’s so well-known, there wouldn’t be a steep learning curve for the branches before they could start using it.
We compiled the various scenarios the branches were creating flyers for from event announcements, class changes, and schedules, to maintenance updates like pool closures. Then we created a set of templates using the colors and typography from the Y’s new brand. Placement copy clearly explained what real text should replace it while maintaining consistent fonts and hierarchy. With our guidance on size and style, the Y’s central communications department was able to curate and provide the branches with a library of images to personalize their flyers with.
The Y chose six branches representing different skill levels as the test group. Thanks to their feedback, we adjusted the templates and clarified instructions before deploying to all locations. Two months later, the initial response from the branches has been enthusiastic. They like the clean, bold look of the templates. But they especially love that staff can make professional looking flyers without a lot of training or playing around with software. And the members? They appreciate quickly recognizing signs informing them their class has moved to another studio.