Brand Guidelines are often misconstrued as that PDF document saved on the marketing manager’s drive somewhere that no-one looks at after a logo has been designed. What many business owners are realising is that Brand Guidelines are a very necessary and valuable asset and should be treated as such.
The fun, creative part to a Brand
Speaking as a graphic designer of 20+ years experience – I can truly say that creating and developing a new brand from scratch is one of the most inspiring and fun projects a designer can work on.
A lot of skill and attention to detail goes into eliciting the personality of the business, its core values and then factoring in the objectives to create…a brand that accurately reflects the business.
Much thought is given to colours, fonts, shapes, taglines, tone of voice and psychological influences that are relevant to the target audience. But, believe it or not – one of the most important things above all of those things is consistency.
There’s value in consistency
Making sure the finished product (i.e. the logo and/or Brand Identity) is accurately represented across all print, media and digital platforms is incredibly important. In today’s fast paced, one-click world – if you skew your voice, message or brand even slightly to the public – you can lose a customer instantly. For me, my worst nightmare is when I see my brand creations being misrepresented by silly errors and thoughtlessness – especially when I hand over a detailed “how to use your brand” document. That’s right, the Brand Guideline document!
What is a Brand Guideline?
Brand guidelines are a way of avoiding a disjointed use of a logo and brand. They are a key element to creating a strong, professional, and more importantly, consistent brand identity. Creating and building an identity is much easier when you have a set of guidelines to help you maintain a coherent image.
Here’s an example of what can be included in a Brand Guideline document:
- Fonts (a range of fonts that can be used for different medium)
- Colour pallets (detailed colour codes so that you can design your marketing material with the exact colours; and different colour code breakdowns needed for print and digital uses)
- Tone of voice
- Range of different styles and sizes of your logo (for use in different contexts across the website, social media and print). With the advent of social media for instance, a square or circular logo works better on Facebook and Twitter, whereas a wider logo can be more appropriate for a website header.
The benefits of a strong brand
Building a strong and consistent brand helps you to communicate the personality of your business, and its purpose, and gives you a consistent tone of voice. It gives your audience (prospective and existing) a subtle underlying confidence that you do what you say you do, and you are here to stay.
When you do not follow your brand guidelines and mess with your colours, or logo, or styling – this can cause confusion and unease. So, whether your brand is on a business card, leaflet, brochure, website or social media – it is vital to deliver the same message across all platforms. A clear and comprehensive set of brand guidelines will ensure the best use of alternative logos and maintain a consistent message.
What is the value of having Brand Guidelines in place?
They are quite literally a digital asset to the business. Whether you are a small or large business, brand guidelines are an invaluable tool in creating consistency of tone, message and reputation.
From a start-up business to a global multi-national company – many people will handle your brand communications: Graphic designers; marketing consultants; your HR department (to maybe advertise a job vacancy); a magazine who will typeset an advert for you; or even printers and signage companies.
Pixelated logos, the wrong shade of blue, a logo used out of proportion, or with the wrong tagline – these all communicate inexperience and lack of professionalism.
Brand guidelines form an essential part of an effective marketing strategy and help anyone creating a message from the brand know and understand which elements to use and how to use them.
Have you taken the time to plan your brand identity in line with your business objectives? Feel free to ask any questions that you have on how to go about doing this, or how to choose the right partner to support you.