Brand Guidelines: Leveling the Branding Playing Field
Why Brand Guidelines Belong on Your Team
Whether your team calls them brand guidelines, a brand style guide, or brand standards, behind every game-changing brand is an ultimate playbook. Having brand guidelines to govern communications from voice and tone to design provides companies with direction and a clear personality.
Consumers expect this clarity. They want to know and understand who you are as a brand and how your company fits into who they are as a person. Because consumers are only truly impacted by brands they trust, being purposeful and recognizable in every instance of your branding is a must. Brand guidelines act as a rule book that maps out your company’s standard for visual and written elements so everyone who plays a role in creating your brand is on the same team. This overall brand consistency ultimately breeds trust.
Kick off your guide with the all-stars of your brand (logo, typography and color). Make sure to cover full and secondary logos, icons, primary and secondary colors as well as all font styles.
Off to a Running Start
Brand guidelines provide a framework for companies to refer to regarding who they are, what they look like and how they sound. A solid foundation leads to a stronger, recognizable brand personality, and in turn, trust amongst consumers. Research shows that consistent brands can expect to earn 23% more revenue annually.
The first step to properly building your brand guidelines or brand style guide is to consider everything as branding. As the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, said, “every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.” It’s no secret you want every customer’s interaction with your brand to be an experience. Whether that experience be confident, spirited, light-hearted or a combination of all three depends on your brand personality. This is when your brand guidelines come into play.
Who you are as a team is entwined with your brand identity. Keep culture front of mind when creating brand guidelines. Go even further by including them in your brand’s play-by-play.
Covering Your Bases
Just as you should consider every ad and marketing material as a piece of your overall branding, your brand guidelines should encompass every piece of your brand personality. Both visual and communicative aspects must be included so your team has a holistic view of your company’s brand identity. Visual factors like color influence 90% of purchases, so truly understanding the look and feel of your company is key to making a profitable impression on your audience. When you’re ready to take a swing at the first draft of your brand guide, your outline may look something like this:
- Who we are
- Mission or purpose
- Target audience or buyer persona
- Visual guidelines
- Logo variations
- Color palette
- Communication guidelines
- Brand voice
Although they may sit on the bench most of the time, your brand guidelines should include special edition iterations of your logo. Think company anniversaries, branded events and brand collateral.
Need some inspiration? Here’s a quick overview of brand guidelines developed by Findsome & Winmore–two of which, we’ve had the pleasure of creating for clients. Crafting the foundation of our client’s branding isn’t a task we take lightly. We’re honored to lend a hand in identifying what makes them truly unique and highlighting those specialties for those they serve.
Transformative | Inspirational | Communal
A classic, sophisticated brand, Baker Barrios is the shape of things to come. In their brand book, we recommended use cases for recruiting materials, web content, slide decks, company swag, interior design and more.
Dix.Hite + Partners
Honest | Relaxed | Informative
We developed all-encompassing brand graphic standards for this landscape architecture firm featuring brand identity, brand context and execution.
Findsome & Winmore
Thoughtful | Innovative | Exploratory
As creative thinkers and doers, we try to take advantage of opportunities to make ourselves better. With our recently finished brand book, we’ll continue exploring, now with a newfound guide (provided as an example).
To ensure accuracy and cohesion amongst the creatives behind your brand, incorporate specific examples of how others should see your identity. This can be achieved through social and merch.
Get Ahead of the Game
One of the most common questions concerning established brand guidelines is when to update them. Really, there’s no black and white when it comes to timing because developing a brand is an ongoing process. As your business matures, being on-brand will begin to look different. Don’t shy away from this growth. But when you notice a shift in your content, push yourself and your team to ensure your brand reflects this change. Brand guidelines are an everlasting, everchanging internal tool. Once you create a guide, you’ll likely have one in your organization for years to come. But as your company evolves, you’ll see that the only constant is change when it comes to brand guidelines.