By Danil Starobogatov, Head of Global Brand Strategy at Etihad Airways

Brand guidelines these days cover approx. nothing worth reading – infinite, constantly evolving list of available channels for communications makes these one day powerful books pretty much irrelevant to a modern day marketer.

Danil Starobogatov,

With this, Brand Governance as a function is losing its ability to maintain brand consistency, decreasing its meaning and impact. What used to be a powerful brand police force, armed with rules and tools, has stopped working:

  • More rules, more guidelines, even penalties – nothing seems to work anymore
  • Your colleagues stop listening to your brand team and organization goes into a downward cycle of inconsistencies

Sounds familiar?

Try this instead:


What is the goal of your brand governance team? No, it is not policing WHAT colors to be used or logos applied. Focus on providing clarity to employees on WHY they should be using X, Y, Z assets, and not WHAT assets to use. If done right, this creates perfect on-brand freedom of expression across an infinite list of channels, as your colleagues will know what the brand is and tell the story consistently no matter where it is placed. So go ahead, change your guidelines accordingly and move your rules into Appendix.


Don’t just react to inconsistencies and off-brand cases, plan for them and encourage controlled experimentation. 


Talk to your colleagues, explain, clarify – over-communicate and act as Brand Enabler, not a an idea killer 


Basic matrix of community-based governance with defined roles (guardians, users and ambassadors) and objectives (protection, education, experimentation) will ensure a very useful, open flow of feedback from your brand universe. Add in your customer data and insights. You desperately need this mix to flex your brand further.

In other words…

  • Brand Governance is a GROWTH function, not a color-matching machine.
  • Use it to grow your brand in a sustainable way
  • Enable the evolution of your brand…

…so you can find a place for it in the future.