What is included?
Your brand mission statement – This will summarise your target audience, the product/service you are providing and how you differentiate from your direct competitors. This forms the foundation upon which you have built your branding.
Colour palette – These are the colours included within your branding and more specifically their RGB, CMYK and HEX colour codes.
Logo design – How your logo should be displayed such as its placement, colours and size. You can alternatively include examples of how it should not be displayed by using different backgrounds and formats
Brand Imagery – Your chosen style of photography, how you would use stock imagery, along with any animations, graphics, icons or hand-drawn visuals.
Your brand voice – This is how you choose to communicate and ultimately connect with your consumers. Whether this be funny and friendly or take on a more professional, authoritative tone.
Typography – Any font that is encompassed within your logo and written communications, the chosen style, size, heading weights and any rules that apply such as the use of italic, underlining, highlighting, shadows etc
Copy Guidelines – An example can ensure that any copy written is on-brand and covers materials such as blogs, campaigns, social media posts, video scripts, packaging and any offline advertising.
I know all of this, why do I need to officially document it in ‘brand guidelines?’
Of course, all of these details will have been previously decided upon and worked to. This accompanied by the fact that creating brand guidelines can be an incredibly time-consuming task may leave you questioning whether it is really necessary. Here we explain several reasons as to why making this effort is worth it and how it can be beneficial to your brand.
Professionalism – Brand guidelines encompass your personality, clarifies exactly what your business stands for and helps set customer expectations. All of this helps to create a strong brand identity and with this comes a sense of professionalism. For example; if you were a funeral director you would want to come across as professional and respectful. If you then outsourced some advertising such as a leaflet with no brand guidelines and consequently no guidance on your preferred style of brand voice this could be a recipe for disaster! In addition to this, having the reproduction of any of your branding assets officially documented shows how much importance and value you place on your business and visual branding which helps to support why consumers should expect a professional experience whenever they deal with you.
Consistency – Each time a potential customer receives some marketing material, sees your advertisements, visits your website they subconsciously form a perception of your company. If you present an inconsistent image of your company, the font, logo placement, colours differ slightly each time it is not going to look very good and instead come across as rather incompetent. As the saying goes, consistency is key and brand guidelines will help you to present and maintain a coherent image.
Aids brand recognition – By having set rules and restrictions when it comes to your company branding you can ensure you provide a consistent brand identity. Colour, in particular, can be extremely difficult to replicate exactly and as detailed in our ebook (Ebook link) brand colours improve recognition by 80%*. Brand guidelines ensure that every aspect of your image, not just colour, is exactly as you want it to be. This helps your brand in becoming recognisable and also communicates that your brand takes pride in the details.
They are useful for employees and outside suppliers – Brand guidelines can be very practical and distributed to employees, this helps in ensuring they fully understand the brand and can therefore represent it in the correct way. It can also help avoid confusion and provide new recruits with a point of reference rather than taking up the valuable time of others.
Outlines rules and sets standards – As discussed you brand guidelines not just include your logo design and colours, they also contain specific rules and standards. It contains details such as format variations, spacing and how to display imagery on differing backgrounds, helping to achieve clear attention to detail and precision.
Keeps focus – If you intend on future growth such as developing new products or extending your services, a brand can quickly become confused when it comes to its new packaging or marketing strategy. Having clear and concise brand guidelines to refer to means you have the tools to quickly and effectively maintain consistency. This will avoid you slowly losing your brand identity at a time of growth when ideally it will be at its strongest.
Value – You cannot put a price on the creation and development of your brand. As Steve Forbes once said, “your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business”. Therefore, to have a set of guidelines specifically for your brand seems a bit of a no brainer, especially given all of the benefits detailed above. If you value your business and are wholly committed to your brand, then brand guidelines are truly invaluable.