When I worked at a university, we received an order of notecards that were printed in the wrong color. If you did not know that the official brand palette was a certain gold you may not have even noticed the slightly-orange-ish ink, but those of us in the marketing area were adamant that they be destroyed. I remember distinctly someone in a leadership role saying that they would “just use them on campus” rather than waste them, but we knew that if they left the delivery box there would be no control of the brand. The gold would morph into all variations of orange-ish as other things would be printed using the notecard color as the standard.

Although that was years ago, I thought about the incident recently when I was cleaning out some supplies of my own. I found a box of notecards with my name – embossed in all capital letters. At the time I purchased them, having anything be both personalized be affordable was a rarity and so I went with it, even though all-caps were the only option. Now, I was staring at a box of high quality, perfectly functional notecards that were totally “off-brand” and I thought about the previous debacle on campus – and cringed as I proceeded to cut them in half to use as scrap paper!

Everyone plays a role in adhering to standards. You can either preserve your visual identity with rigor or let it go. “Sort-of” isn’t a viable option.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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