IV. CASE STUDIES: IN ABSENCE — OPPORTUNITY
So, who’s doing it right? Only a few. A sober truth, but also an opportunity: for brave leaders and forward-thinking organisations to blaze new paths.
Here’s a peek at a selection of work being done in this space. And, if you’ll excuse a small vanity, we’ve snuck in one of our own.
Mailchimp built their reputation on clever, offbeat copywriting. It’s no great surprise then, that their internal guide for their copywriters is presented not as a prescriptive manual, but a beautifully presented interactive set of suggestions. It’s an elegant and highly effective way of establishing a consistent tone, while encouraging the creativity of their contributors. Treat yourself to a lesson in style guides done right with a hit on voiceandtone.com
Mattel is a company that knows what it stands for — their vision, values and principles are evident throughout the organisation. We worked with Mattel’s EHS leadership to communicate their ‘Play with Care’ strategy through a safety journal for managers — an engaging tool designed to embed both safety, and play (a core brand value and principle), into daily routine. The journal is a functional resource for championing safety, incorporating playful elements like comic stories, and a spin on spot the difference. Who doesn’t like spot the difference? No-one, that’s who!
I’m fairly certain that if Nike made tuxedos (for rare showings at fancy soirées), I’d never need to wear another brand. I love them. But, I love their approach to communication within the brand even more.
The Nike brand maxims are 11 rules that go a Jordanian bound beyond governing employees — they infiltrate almost every internal brand interaction. They’re exactly the opposite of a typical employee handbook, discarded after the first week. They’re so embedded in culture, they’re used on a daily basis. If things turn complicated, someone might say: “simplify and go” (Maxim #4). Adecision is made and the group moves on.
Flip the early pages of Nike’s brand books and the first thing that strikes is they’re not just a document for designers and marketeers — they’re a resource for everyone. No logo proportions; no technical dos and don’ts. In place: bold statements, values, and vision — a rally to all who evangelise Nike.
This approach permeates through collateral. No homogenised templates in corporate branding. Employee induction kits, handbooks, manuals, internal event invitations — all beautifully themed, and completely unique. A swift slap to the face of habituation.
There’s a Nordstrom Employee Handbook that’s rightly achieved infamy. It has just one page, and on that page is just one rule: “Use best judgment in all situations.” My heart soars, my soul delights.