For any business, large or small, your brand is arguably your most important asset. More than just a logo, your brand identity is your business personality and will be key in projecting your brand across all channels and all applications.
One of the most important parts of branding is consistency; regardless of the size of your company. Brand guidelines are a key tool to help ensure the consistency of your brand across all print media and digital collateral.
Your brand guidelines are key to creating consistent and impactful communications.
Here are some reasons why you need them.
They ensure consistency.
Brand guidelines are not put in place to stifle creativity, but instead, they are there to help keep your brand identity consistent and recognisable across all applications. Helping build trust and awareness in your product or service.
A strong, consistent brand helps to communicate your personality, your promises and why your business exists.
They increase brand recognition.
Brand recognition is the visual and audio cues people use to identify a brand. A brand identity is your name, your logo, colours, tone of voice, your story or any other identifying characteristic that separates your business product or service from your competition. The consistent use of your image will help your brand to become much more recognisable and memorable to your target audience, making yours the one they think of.
They set rules & ensure correct usage.
Your brand guidelines are effectively a style guide that contains your methods and rules for keeping your brand consistent and memorable. Guidelines ensure anyone, internal or external of the business using your brand are creating messaging or designs correctly and that represent the brand accurately.
Pixelated logos, the use of the wrong colours, incorrect font usage or a deviation on your brand promise are just a few examples of what can seriously damage your brand and potentially lose customer loyalty. These can all be avoided by having guidelines and a library of brand assets in place for employees and third parties to use. For example, what happens if your marketing manager is on annual leave when an urgent piece of artwork is needed? What if you appoint a new marketing consultancy, will they know our brand? No, not straight away, but by having guidelines they can follow and adhere to will help keep everything on brand and on message.
Your brand guidelines will be the custodian that ensures continuity when design and branding responsibilities pass from one person to the next.
What is included in brand guidelines?
A positioning statement defines your target audience, and how you want that audience to perceive your brand.
Positioning statement example: For the young and young-at-heart, Walt Disney World is the theme park that best delivers on an immersive and magical experience because Walt Disney World, and only Walt Disney World, connects you to the characters and worlds you most desire.
The one thing that will appear on practically all of your messaging and collateral, how your logo should and should not be displayed is an important part of your guidelines. I believe that there should be a certain amount of flexibility within your brand identity and guidelines for the brand image to slowly evolve and grow over time. But the logo design should follow strict rules in how it is used in terms of sizing, spacing, colours and how to use them, how it is to be used on different backgrounds to keep consistency across all applications.
Typography when used consistently is a huge asset to a brands impact. How you use primary and secondary fonts within all your marketing material should be set out within your guidelines. What font is used for all headings? Should the headings always appear in uppercase? What font weight is used for the main body copy? Just a few things that need to be considered to achieve consistency whether applied to a website or a brochure.
Consistent use of the brand colour is just as important as the correct usage of the logo and fonts. A company can become known for their strong, consistent use of colour… think of John Deere, Guinness, Coca Cola and Cadbury to name a few.
For a strong visual and memorable identity try sticking to a minimal palette of two or three colours for the primary brand colours that are used in every application of your brand. Secondary colours can be used to support the the brand and give it a little more flexibility. All colours references should be supplied Pantone, CYMK, RGB and Hex codes.
Additional graphics such as shapes, lines, dots, specific angles or icons that help make up your unique identity should be supplied with guidance on how to use them.
Finally, we like to show a few examples of how all the above can come together to create your brand identity. For example, a poster design, spreads from a brochure, the landing page of a website or possibly branded merchandise. Examples are chosen that are relevant to the brand and show it of in a context that the client can relate to.