Kill the PDF

By Steven Cook

Five important factors to get your living style guide off the ground and start enhancing your brand’s experience.

Technology has always created game changing effects on infrastructure, processes, culture, and business models. What we are currently witnessing plays an existential role for a brand and compels leaders to start rethinking their strategy. But it seems that design and brand become an afterthought in the future success of a business. Here is what I think about it.

Since speed to market and the complex diversity of brand experience continue to be a growing challenge it is critical for brand teams to provide a common understanding, alignment, and guidance to all who work with the brand. All of us know this and it is by no means a new topic – guidelines are key. But steering a brand in the 21st century is an ongoing process.

The decades of MetaDesign’s experience has given us several insights in how to launch living style guides. So, to help you get your style guide off the ground here are a few insights we have collected for you.


  1. IT infrastructure

The understanding of the digital infrastructure is truly a deal breaker. We have been involved in many conversations with brand managers who have a superficial understanding of which digital infrastructure is being used internally and which technology will affect the customers’ experience. It is imperative to understand digital experiences, processes and the complex IT landscape, so they can create clear guidance throughout the organization. If you are looking to enable your teams all over the world rather than policing them, you have to know the implications of what tools or what corporate IT standards are set. And this has to happen upfront.

  1. Cultural shift

Often overlooked is the complete organization shift that comes along with this process. Implementing overarching brand steering is a change that needs to happen on all levels. The lack of wide acceptance, the walls between departments won’t come down. Resulting in the hindrance of the possible success of your living style guide. Ultimately, lack of continuity will appear in the experiences your customers will have. Thus, leading them to uncertainty and impatience with your brand. This is no longer a corporate design topic, this is a company-wide involvement that needs to happen early and often.

  1. Product ownership

A main requirement for these projects is a true product responsibility. This entails a holistic thinking about this platform and a continued understanding for all your stakeholders and users is needed. Before you decide if you need an off-the-shelf solution and build your platform from scratch you have to know your user. Start by understanding the process landscape, then interview stakeholders to see what they need and wish for. Knowing your core user needs helps to define the relevant tools to empower and improve efficiency. This is a digital service, so build it like one. Pushing particular topics to someone else’s desk will stall the project.

  1. Set principles

As with all guidelines, strong principles need to be set before you start designing any artifact. These of course have to be aligned with your brand and design strategy. Your teams need to know and understand the role design plays in your organization. What is the long-term vision and innovations which are needed to be taken into consideration. The definition of your design principles need to be derived from our business, brand, and end-customer’s needs. This foundation will support the building of a sound design system that really adds to your brand’s bottom-line.

  1. Unique style

Style over trend … I couldn’t agree more on this point. It is important not to forget digital is always in beta, so continuous designing of your brand’s unique style that springs out of your overall corporate design is needed. Building a special digital style starts small and ends with beautiful and functional digital products and services. If there is a chance to combine the complete branding, I would do so. Nevertheless, to implement a design system and pattern library improves turn-around time and reduces cost.

These points are just a few but the most important of the key factors that need to be taken into consideration when going about creating a living style guide for your brand.

Steven Cook is Head of User Experience at MetaDesign Berlin.

OFFF: A Designer’s Life Squeezed into a 3-day Spanish Extravaganza

By Aude Kohler und Alessandro Würgler

Inspiration, laughs, sweat, tears and some Spanish flair: visiting the design festival OFFF in Barcelona was like peering directly into the microcosm of a designer’s life. From inspiring work to late-night talks on collaboration and to the struggles of balancing work-life routines – seeing, listening and talking to people who do what they love for a living was once again magical. Here are the top five take outs we want to share with you.

Finding the Right Story

An Interview with Steven Cook

Steven Cook, who joined MetaDesign Berlin as Head of User Experience in April, in conversation with Linus Lütcke about the challenges of digital transformation, his advice to brands and how he sees MetaDesign’s role in the future.

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Successful brands convince us by taking a strong stand. To do this, they need a clear identity.

Change – even profound change – has always been with us. In the past, however, change was more predictable and thus it could also be managed better. You had the annual plan, the strategic three-year and five-year plans. Companies were able to continuously plan their product development and the resources that would be required. They knew their competitors. They were in a predictable environment with more or less high barriers to entry.

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We need to talk about a word that we as branding experts use a lot and employ frequently to justify decisions when working on or with a brand; a word whose meaning appears crystal clear to us at first, but is worth a closer look: consistency.

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By Sven John 

This article is concerned with the role humans play in the digital transformation of organizations. It assumes that whether or not such a transformation is successful depends on the convergence of “cold” (technical and infrastructural) and “warm” (social and cultural) factors. The second part of the article approaches potential pitfalls of human transformations within organizations and the deliverables MetaDesign provides to address these.

Trying to Fix a Broken Workflow

By Alessandro Würgler

The current design workflow is broken. It was with this premise that the InVision team set out to develop their new incarnation: InVision Studio. The tool was unveiled in October for a January 2018 release, and promised to be “The world’s most powerful design tool”. Can they deliver?

Brand Strategies for a Digital World

By Lisa Krick 

For many years branding and corporate design agencies understood themselves as the “preservers of the brand.” After stripping down the brand’s content and identity to clear visual codes, it was up to the corporate design experts to preserve these codes consistently across all touchpoints and evolve the brand gradually over time. “360-degree marketing” became the mantra of tortured advertisers for decades. One relict of this era: the typical PowerPoint chart illustrating a brand that looks the same across all media touch points.

Taking It to the Streets

By Amandine Rodrigues

This year has started – and continues to pass – in a pretty hectic way. From Trump’s presidency to Brexit, from refugee crises to women’s rights, from slaughterhouse scandals to climate change (shall I really continue the list?!), these events have led more and more people to come out on the streets to protect their beliefs and make their voices heard. They want to contribute to a greater good and wish for a better society. But what about brands?