January 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments
Conformity is a bit like heroin: comforting, but extremely addictive.
If your company or clients value conformity over creative, it’s your role to try to break the chain of addiction. Then again, maybe you are the pusher.
About a decade ago, an innovative 3D graphics company I was working with was sold to a major computer company. I was entrusted with preparing a brochure and poster that conveyed the excitement of a new product. It shouldn’t have been hard: the images generated by this computer were stunning, and its capabilities singular.
The challenge was overcoming the rigid standards of the parent company: Use one of two typeface choices and one of a few design templates. Exact color and positioning for the logo. Reference the company name in the exact same way all the time.
The pieces ended up looking and sounding fine, but they took three times as long to produce and involved four times as many people as they should have. And, they could have been much better. I vowed never to do a project for a company like that again; I’m glad to say I’ve stuck to that vow.
About five years later, what a relief it was to see Google snub conformity. Silly company name. Logo that it changed daily and had fun with — in fact, playing with the company logo became part of Google’s corporate identity and a subject of discussion.
Think about things you do to conform to some rules that were written years ago and might not be relevant, or are actually dragging down your corporate image. Like that boring standard paragraph at the end of your press releases. Or the corporate-speak that saturates your marketing materials. Or those quotes from the CEO that sound like they came from an automaton. Or using trademarks when they aren’t needed. Or the staid design of your web site.
Conformity sends a message: “We’re like all the rest and we don’t care if you think so.” Is that the corporate message you want? If so, fine. If not, time to get the conformity monkey off your back.