Brand guidelines – what are they and why are they so important?
Every business has a brand, whether it has been consciously crafted or has developed organically over time. Creating a brand guidelines document is the perfect way to ensure marketing teams and supporting agencies communicate a consistent message about your brand to the world. As content creators for brands of all sizes, we use these guidelines every day and understand just how important they are in ensuring consistent, considered and on-brand material each and every time.
Beyond the marketing and comms team, brand guidelines act as a resource for your team to fully understand and represent the brand and provide a useful reference point for all. By referring to brand guidelines, messaging is more likely to be relevant, aligned with strategy and distinguishable from your competitors. Crucially by using brand guidelines, cohesive content will be created that establishes a strong brand voice that will resonate with your audience, building trust and actively contributing to your bottom line.
If you’re considering creating brand guidelines, here’s what you should include:
Values and mission
Immediately set the tone by offering an overview of your brand’s history, personality and key values. Plus, share your company vision and mission statement.
Tone of voice
An often overlooked component of brand guidelines, setting the tone of voice used by your company will help maintain consistent, professional copy across all channels, both online and offline.
The company logo and any derivatives of it
Instructions on the corresponding colour formats for web and print, the logo’s minimum size, the size in relation to other assets (e.g. the tagline) create consistency and maintain the integrity of the brand’s visual identity.
Any typefaces used, their weights and web-safe alternatives should all be included. If necessary, distinguish between fonts used for body copy, titles and list any formatting preferences for copy.
Share the company’s primary and secondary palettes with breakdowns for print and web.
Build and maintain a consistent image by creating a guide surrounding imagery, both for stills and footage. One client of ours only uses grey scaled footage, with all copy and logos in bright, contrasting colours and this really sets them apart from their competitors.
Why does your business need brand guidelines?
To create and maintain consistency
Make your brand recognisable and memorable at every touch point. Whether it’s your website, a business card or a video, create a constant brand tone (and not just visually), so your audience immediately know who is speaking to them.
Be prepared for a slow burn, as you consistently build your brand over time by referring to, and respecting, your guidelines. Constructing an identity is much easier when you have a set of guidelines to refer to, plus an inconsistent brand experience weakens your marketing efforts and can lead to distrust with your customers.
To maintain the correct level of professionalism
Back up your business by developing a tone that is pitched at the correct level for your clients and is used in the right way in the various different touchpoints. For example, a solicitor’s firm will seek to maintain a neutral, professional and perhaps authoritative tone, whereas a coffee shop might prefer to be relaxed, informal and welcoming in its tone. Spend time working through various scenarios and examples of how you might use the tone and set out good and bad examples of usage.
To ensure continuity of the brand
Your brand guidelines ensure any individual or agency can accurately represent your brand across all channels. All applications of logos, colours and the correct tone to use are set out and easy to refer to in a good brand book. Team members may be on holiday, move on or you may move to another provider for services, so having an easily accessible brand guidelines document means you can bring anyone in to the loop on how the brand should be represented.
The evolution of your brand
Brand guidelines are the framework for your brand’s identity and a great reference point for the whole team. We would recommend reviewing your brand guidelines at least once a year to ensure they are still accurately reflecting your brand, vision and values. Brand evolution naturally occurs over time and reworking your guidelines is a rewarding task for the whole team as brand journey continues.