It’s the end of 2023, and it’s time to update your brand guidelines right now


Marketing comrades, as we straddle our hybrid lives on the cusp of 2024, I believe it’s high time we scrutinize the ubiquity of our beloved brand guidelines. We, as marketers, must confront the necessity of updating our collective strategy for constructing brand guides, as well as our marketing responsibilities for 2024 and beyond.

The world is in flux, generative AI is here, and our branding approaches must adapt accordingly. We’re not merely discussing a fresh lick of paint on an old logo or a fashionable new color scheme. No, we’re addressing a monumental shift in our perception, creation, and management of brands.

*getting up on branding soapbox*

*Image created in ChatGPT4/Dall-E

The Living Tree of Branding

Envision your brand guidelines as a living, breathing tree. It’s perpetually growing, adapting, and extending its branches to reach new heights. It’s not static but alive, dynamically responding to the changing environment around it – the sun, the soil, and, yes, generative AI.

If the brand is the roots and the sturdy trunk of a tree, imagine your guidelines as the branches that adapt to the tactics and times. Now, generative AI is here to provide the optimal climate for your tree to flourish and branches to expand. As marketers, this brings responsibility, accountability, a need for innovative approaches, and fresh strategic thinkers (calling YOU, humans!).

The Evolution of Branding

Fast forward to 2024, like as in right now- and branding has evolved into a magnificent symphony of sights, sounds, and soul. It’s no longer about slapping a logo on everything, providing a brand voice and the right font, and calling it a day. We’re discussing a holistic experience that connects with people on a profound level. We are talking about the times we are in and the ability of brands to truly connect with their customers and environments.

Remember when digital assets were new to your brand guides? Well, now we’re elevating it with AI workflows.

We are discussing new tactics and unexplored and even yet-to-be-determined possibilities! Your brand should not feel stagnant within your marketing tactics. It needs to go where the audience is, utilize relevant data, and take into account the world around it. Sure, your visuals are important, but what about the channels and emotions they evoke? What about the stories your brand tells? What about your brand’s governance and responsibility in this brave new world?

Brands will need to dig deeper, understanding that it’s the human component that truly sets them apart, but also that the world is not standing still, it is ever-changing.

Embracing the Power of Generative AI

So, fellow brand enthusiasts, it’s time to step up your game!

It’s time to do some serious strategy and brand thinking beyond where we are right now. Embrace the power and authenticity of real-time data. Connect with authentic, personalized messaging, creativity, and purpose. Let your updated 2024 brand guide lead the way to a future where people are not just leads but connections. Together, let’s make 2024 the year for brands to think deeper about their touchpoints and impact.

Considerations for the Future

Listen to your brand: At Overit, we have always talked about the power of audio and sonic branding. With the continued rise of audio in various marketing channels, sonic branding will continue to grow. Marketers will start thinking of the opportunities that surround audio with personalization, streaming mediums like Spotify, OTT channels, and “sound on” platforms like TikTok.

Remember when having audio on video players was once taboo? Well, those days of silence are about to end!

It’s time to let your brand’s freak flag fly in the audio space! Does it have sassy voiceovers? Catchy audio tags? Location ambient sounds? Brand tunes that will get stuck in people’s heads in person? Perhaps a twisted jingle that haunts your dreams.

AI guidelines and disclaimers: As AI becomes more prevalent in marketing, brands should establish ethical boundaries for how these technologies are applied to avoid issues. This includes guidelines, standards, policies, and requirements for the privacy of data and governance. The importance of embedding ethical guidelines within the brand book will ensure AI respects not just your brand’s values but also aligns with them. Provide standards for how customer and brand data can be utilized by AI tools to maintain transparency and prevent misuse.

AI and visual content: Generative AI can automate the creation of branded visual content variations and personalization, saving time and resources. With the rise of hyper-personalized marketing, detailed parameters for segmentation and adaptations while maintaining brand integrity are crucial. Humans are still needed to cross-reference this content against brand guidelines and quality standards. Expanding guidelines for dynamic brand assets and generative design, logos, color pathways, and other brand assets can now adapt and change.

Other content: This could also include the strategic integration of text, images, videos, audio, and other media, or even interactive elements on a company’s website or mobile app. Together, they create a harmonious performance that can significantly impact a brand’s engagement, storytelling, and credibility. Providing frameworks for these fluid brand elements that can work dynamically with data is another level.

Hybrid online/offline spaces: Branded environments now bridge physical and digital, requiring updated guidelines for spaces like hybrid events, pop-ups, and events. Think about announcers, wayfinding, and experiential marketing.

Brand guidelines can no longer be static PDFs. They need to be interactive, updated regularly, and accessible across the organization. By expanding brand guidelines to cover new technologies and environments, brands can retain consistency and integrity as they explore emerging opportunities. This takes vision and continued attention, but the payoff is sustaining a recognizable brand identity even as marketing continues to transform.

So here are some quick takeaways to keep in mind for those that made it this far *thank you!*

Additional takeaways:

AI Alignment: Ensure any AI-generated content aligns with brand values and messaging, avoiding a dystopian future where bots dictate our brand stories.

Data Transparency: Establish standards for customer data usage and transparency.

Human Oversight: Keep humans in the loop to review AI-generated visual and written content.

Adaptive Brand Assets: Allow brand assets to fluidly adapt with generative design, but remember, even shapeshifters need a moral compass.

High-Level Guidelines: Focus guidelines on high-level tone and messaging principles because in the land of marketing, the big picture reigns supreme.

Hyper-Personalization Parameters: Detail parameters for hyper-personalized content segmentation because treating customers like the unique snowflakes they are always wins.

Hybrid Spaces: Update guidelines for hybrid online/offline spaces because our brands live in the Matrix now, too.

What would you add to this list? I’d love to know. Reach out to me anytime on LinkedIn, I love to geek out.

Further Reading

The Importance of Visual Identity

The Case for AI Optimism

Branding is not just about leads. It’s about finding your sense of place.