Great question! I think its ok, especially if every attempt is made to use the style guide as inspiration. I also think when possible discussing with the brand owner and seeking collaboration/approval is always a good idea.
Good point - even if you think your variation looks good, some creators/companies might want to stick to their rules whenever the branding is exercised, so asking for permission is definitely a way to go.
In my experience the questions is always better received then the after the fact discovery. Doesn't mean the brand holder green lights all changes b/c you asked but their is an appreciation that drives a willingness to find a solution. Nothing is worse than discovering "They did what to WHAT?" even if the changes are ultimately inoffensive. No one likes feeling left out, not consulted.
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