Posted by: dridgeway | November 3, 2019

Breaking the Brand Guide – Building a New Power Brand

A key element in many corporate marketing and communication departments is the infamous brand guide, better known as the “do and do not” manual. In this guide, the typography, colors, logo layout, and corporate voice examples are a resource to ensure a compelling brand allowing for quick identification for external and internal stakeholders. It is the governing tool of the brand.

I have this tool sitting next to my laptop and refer to it daily – what logo to use, the RGB color code for a PowerPoint, logo placement on company vehicles, approved taglines, and professional photography requirements. Utilizing these tools has been hammered into many marketing and communication professionals, that “where is the guide?”, is one of the first questions new hires ask.

In New Power, Heimans and Timms introduce five steps to Build a New Power Crowd in chapter 4. These steps include: Step 1 Find your connected connectors; Step 2 Build a New Power Brand; Step 3 lower the barrier, flatten the path; Step 4 move people up the participation scale, and Step 5 harness the three storms (Heimans & Timmis, 2018). Step 2 is what caught my attention in building a brand that embraces new power because the beloved brand guide is an element of old power. However, to adopt new power ideals, it needs to be broken.

Ditching the strict guide is to build a community that rallies behind and uplifts organizations. An example in the book is Airbnb. In 2014, the firm need to find its original roots and connect with their community members, they needed a brand that resonated with anyone in any location. They developed a new logo but put power in the hands of hosts on color, texture, and add-ons. According to the logo design firm, DesignStudio, “community members to truly participate into the visual element of the brand” ( and over 750,000 logo variations have been created. In old power organizations, the example logo below would draw critique and discussion with the employee that created it on why it’s off-brand. However, community members have transformed Airbnb into an influencer within the hospitality industry.

Step 2 also discusses Ownerless Brands, like #GivingTuesday. The non-profit encourages individuals to volunteer and donate to local non-profits in communities on the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, in its infancy, the logo was highly debated on including elements of the organization’s brainchild firm. The fear of incorporating elements beyond #GivingTuesday was that it would be challenging for other non-profit ease of using the logo. The result would create confusion for potential volunteers and donors. New power brand building has allowed the campaign to spread rapidly from coast to coast. #GivingTuesday in 2019 is on December 3rd. Be sure to get out in your community to donate an hour or two, or give a few dollars to our favorite charity and become a new power brand user and post the hashtag on your social media. I know that I’ll be participating this year!

Many firms might be unwilling to allow a full new power approach, but taking small steps can help these brands reach an innovative group of community members who develop a new passion for an organization when they feel they have the ability to be involved or interact in a meaningful way, beyond being a consumer.


Heimans, J., & Timmis, H. (2018). Chapter 4 How to Build a Crowd. In J. Heimans, & H. Timmis, New Power (pp. 54-80). New York, New York: Doubleday.

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