What Marketing Can And Can't Do With Microsoft's Avatars

We took a look at Microsoft's "Avatar Guidelines" today, the company's set of rules governing how avatars can be displayed in both internal and external (ie, catalogues) marketing programs. And they're more interesting than you think.

Sure, most of it is made up with the kind of stuff only marketing teams and graphic designers need worry about. Asset placement, fonts, that sort of thing.


But amidst all the practical stuff are some points like this, revealing not only Microsoft's underlying "vision" for the little guys, but the kind of restrictions they'll place on their use to ensure that "vision" is achieved. Some of them are understandable! Others, a little...odd. All interesting, however, so we figured we'd share.

- When Avatars are used in a group of three or more, at least one Avatar must be female.

- When Avatars are used in a group of three or more, consider including different ethnicities.

- When Avatars are used in groups of three or more, one of them should be facing forward and looking outward.

- Avatars must be playful and mischievous, not devious or inappropriate.

- Do not show Avatars with closed or blinking eyes.

- Do not show Avatars using any hand or body gestures other than those provided.

- Do not use an Avatar as the main message of a marketing piece.

- Do not show Avatars interacting with the Xbox 360 Sphere.

Like I said, odd. Where does one draw the line between "mischievous" and "devious"? And what's wrong with a sausage party?

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