“Why Do We Have Templates? They Limit My Creativity!”


Vikram is a designer and works at Unbridled Limited, a start-up. He is upset with the ‘restrictions’ put by the brand guidelines at his organization. He discusses his frustration with his friend, Hanna, over a cup of coffee. Below is an excerpt from their conversation. I invite you to think about the situation and what can Vikram do to feel more liberated creatively.

 Vikram: “I don’t get it. The brand team creates guidelines and they are so restrictive. It isn’t easy working here”.

Hanna: “What do you mean? Thought this was the kind of place you liked to be at? Also I felt this was the kind of work you liked doing!”

Vikram: “It is. I am a designer and my mind prefers to be unrestricted. Now I am upset by the number of restrictions this new brand book has come up with.”

Hanna: “Like what?”

Vikram: “For instance, I am not supposed to create a mnemonic for any program or an event. They say it confuses employees and managing multiple mnemonics is a waste of time and resources. Also the company logo is the only logo we can use. Now that is very restrictive.”

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Hanna: “Is that it?”

Vikram: “That’s not all. I find the choice of colors and visual elements limiting. They saw we can’t use any clip-art kind of visuals. How weird is that? We all love clip-art and all our stakeholders have grown up looking at clip-art!”

Hanna: “I can see how badly you miss clip-arts. But do they add value?”

Vikram: “Yes, they do. They make you look fondly at the posters and remember them for a while”

Hanna: “Hmm…do they? Is that all with the restrictions?”

Vikram: “You won’t believe this one. They say we can’t have visuals of our employees smiling directly into the camera – because it looks fake. How can they do this? My heart sank when I read those guidelines. Without people smiling into the camera how else can we shoot our employees? Look into the distance like some philosphers?”

Hanna: (looking amused) “It does seem like you have your hands tied!”

Vikram: “They are making designers like me feel miserable. Our life isn’t just about templates. We need a canvas on which we can express ourselves. Our mind is free but our hands our tied”

Hanna: “Yes, but these guidelines are there for a reason. If everyone does what they want will it not lead to chaos?”

Vikram: (unmoved) “How can I do work which I can’t show on my portfolio? The campaigns will be like any other work. Boring and uninteresting. Normal is boring. We need to spice things up. Make it exciting and get everyone to say ‘wow’!”

Hanna: “You need to have a think about this. I can understand your pain. There must be a way to look at this situation”

Is Vikram justified in feeling stifled by the guidelines? Can creativity thrive in a ‘templatised’ environment? What advice can you give Vikram?

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