Whether your brand guidelines are in need of a refresh, or you’re looking to build some rules and standards from the ground up, there’s a few things you need to know.
Even experienced marketing departments can struggle with what brand guidelines are, the value they bring to the table, and how they contribute to maintaining the organization’s brand identity.
Good marketing and branding depends on a loose set of rules that familiarize your customers with who you are and what you stand for. As trivial as it may seem, using the same colors in your marketing materials, collateral and web presence provides a simple visual cue for viewers to recognize. Those cues are what remind them they’re viewing a continual experience, rather than a fragmented one.
As a result, clearly defining the “do’s and don’ts” of how your brand characterizes itself is a key process in cultivating the right image for your company. Partnering with a branding agency in building your brand guidelines, can help you draft rules beyond simply what colors you use. Brand guidelines can help you develop real, hard-and-fast specifications for the way your brand speaks and acts, providing a confident sense of self that’s attractive to new and existing customers.
Purpose of Brand Guidelines
Think of brand guidelines like instructions for a piece of furniture. You’ll always want to start at the base — the simple, essential items that allow the rest of your brand to build up and out.
As a branding company, we think of the base in a few different ways:
- The tone of voice you’ll carry through all materials, written, spoken and even visualized
- The visual style, be it stock photography, illustrations, motion graphics or even emojis
- The subtle differences your brand demands when crossing media boundaries, and how its behavior shifts from digital to print and beyond
- Once we’ve pinpointed all the above, it’s easier to move into some of the more nuanced requirements for a thorough set of brand guidelines, things like:
- Image dimensions and touch-up requirements
- Fonts, typography, and the limitations set on certain character counts
- Logo do’s and don’ts, such as permitted color modifications or resizing guidelines
- Exceptions where the rules could potentially be broken
For as much as we do to quantify our work, branding is the business of feeling – and your brand guidelines help steer the feeling of your audience in the direction you’d like.
Creating a brand book allows for consistent branding across marketing directors, internal team changes, and transposing a brand to new media channels. This established baseline of how the brand conducts itself is called the brand standard, and can be a powerful force in ensuring your messaging is working its magic. Depending on which expert you talk to, this asset can also be described as a style guide, brand bible, or simply “brand guidelines.”
Ultimately, no matter the nomenclature, the brand book is a set of do’s and don’ts that govern the way your brand appears and behaves across mediums to cultivate a well-defined and consistent image.
Creative Guidelines Build Relationships
An effective set of brand guidelines can move your business forward in more than just the obvious ways. They can give you a yardstick to measure up all your current messaging, and a rubric for creating new material as you grow. But they can also:
- Improve the onboarding speed for new employees, explaining what your brand is all about – and how to express it in the most concise way possible
- Give potential partners and collaborators a sense of who you are, and where you might find a fit
- Save you there the stress of doing the work a branding agency was meant to do, creating a one-time document that you can use as a “plug-and-play” device for creating new marketing materials
- Inform external design teams on logo usage guidelines, by outlining specific modifications that are and are not acceptable
Let’s Make an Impression
We have a collaborative process for when we build style guides for our partners. Balancing the importance of brand identity, design and messaging, we’ll work with you to devise smart, concise rules for how your brand operates.
Web branding and digital standards change, so we’re no strangers to creating living documents we update to keep your brand ahead of the times.
If you’re ready to elevate your brand to the next level, schedule a consultation with Bowen. We’re in the business of creating bold, memorable brands.