Brand guidelines are a set of rules for the use of your logo and other brand elements to create a unified identity when connecting colours, your logo or your typography. Sometimes they can extend to include your brand style or in other words the look and feel of all your marketing materials. The guidelines define how the elements that make up your brand are used and in essence defines how your business communicates with your audience.
It’s an important document because it can be used by employees and external creative suppliers to ensure that your materials are always ‘on brand’.
So what’s the business case for having a set of brand guidelines?
When you have a predetermined set of rules, you will get a consistent look and feel to all of your marketing so when your ideal client visits your website, sees your advert or receives your sales brochure, they perceive your company in a certain way and the guidelines help you control that perception.
Consistency is important because it makes your brand recognisable and therefore reliable.
2. New employees benefit
You may well know your brand’s identity inside out, but a new employee probably won’t. It’s also particularly useful for giving to design agencies or publishing houses so that they may create new marketing materials that are ‘on brand’.
Your brand guidelines are composed of rules on how to use your brand’s visual elements. These rules will include when to use a logo versus a wordmark, whether you have a stacked or a long version of your logo, the exclusion zone around your logo, where it appears consistently on the page and the hierarchy of colour and typography.
Brand guidelines are a valuable tool for your employees to keep your brand cohesive. In larger organisations departments other than marketing or comms produce materials too, for example HR or the leader of a large project, so it’s important they all have the brand guidelines and more importantly are familiar with them.
By keeping your brand consistent, it allows it to be more immediately recognisable within your industry and with your target audience. Building a recognisable brand can take time but your brand can quickly start to stand out by adhering to your brand guidelines.
4. Staying focused
When introducing new products or services, a brand can get stretched too thin. By implementing brand guidelines, you have the tools to quickly and effectively maintain consistency. Brand guidelines help you align your business’s interests with your intended audience.
With a cohesive brand identity you increase the brand’s perceived value. Consistency allows your brand to appear more professional and reliable. By implementing brand guidelines, you make it easier to maintain the quality and integrity of your brand’s image. This is particularly useful in a more price driven market, as consistently communicating your brand in a cohesive way means people will see the value in choosing you rather than your cheaper competition.
What’s included in brand guidelines?
These are the colours that make up your brand. Normally you’ll have a primary colour palette that will include the colours of your logo and the secondary colour palette will include complementary colours that can be used on marketing materials. It’s not wise to use too many colour options or you’ll start to lose your identity. Brand guidelines should include RGB and CMYK colour codes, so your colours stay consistent between web and print formats.
Brand guidelines will include typefaces and families, font sizes, and the hierarchy of the fonts your brand uses. It could include the typeface you use for headlines and the typeface you use for body copy as well as the preferred system typeface for documents you produce internally.
How your logo should be displayed in different formats is a very important part of your guidelines. This could include size restrictions, exclusion zones, which colours to use, and how your logo should be displayed on different backgrounds. It’s also wise to show what not to do with your logo in terms of stretching or distorting it.
Additional elements that may be included:
Imagery could include the style of photographs, illustrations or icons your company uses on your website or other marketing materials.
Tone of voice
Tone of voice is the personality of your brand that is expressed through words. It governs what you say in writing and how you say it. As we know, when we communicate via text or email, things can be taken out of context so it’s important to establish your personality in words across all medium in order to maintain control of your target audience’s perception.
It’s pretty much impossible to keep your brand identity consistent without brand guidelines. If you feel you need to create new guidelines then it’s important to engage with a creative, reliable and expert strategic design team like Be Smart Design. Not only can we create them for you but we can work with you on the strategic stuff that are the foundations of your guidelines document.
Contact us and we’ll create your brand’s visual elements in order to build guidelines that help you main a cohesive, impactful and strong brand.