The so called no 1 local agency has done a Brand Guidelines Manual for a recently launched motor lubricant and I had the misfortune of flipping through its golden – oh, sorry, yellowish – pages.The agency must have charged a good fortune for that particular piece of mockery, which was nothing more than a mere collection of basic design templates. I am appalled by the mediocracy and the incompetence of the self-proclaimed “best agency in Sri Lanka” which doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “Brand” and “Design” Guidelines. They could have done a far better job if they had only tried. Had they surfed the net and downloaded a few examples and imitated them blindly, there could’ve been a better result. Given the chance, I know the design students in Beirut could have done a far better job. I wonder if this agency knows what a Brand Guidelines Manual looks like – let alone creating one. In essence, a Brand Guidelines Manual defines the DNA of the brand. It establishes the brand strategy, includes the brand architecture and specifies the brand positioning. The Guidelines Manual defines the personality, tangibles, intangibles and core values inherent to the brand. It explains the look and feel – the visual language – and sets parameters, outlines the do’s and don’ts and establishes a solid communication platform. The book is the result of lot of research, planning and hardwork – and most creatives hate the manual because of its detailed, regimental guidelines. Its the Bible, its the Black Book, its the secret for success and the future of the brand. An agency is the guardian, the custodian of a brand – they should know the brands in their portfolio like the back of their palm. If this is the kind of work that comes out of the no. 1 agency in the island, I wonder what would we see from the lesser agencies. God save the clients who are with an agency that has no clue in advertising or building sustainable brands.