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19th August 2016

#B2B #B2C #Branding

Brand Guidelines, what are they and why do you need them?

We’ve helped many clients over the years rebrand or build a new brand from ground roots. Part and parcel of delivering a branding project is to produce a set of brand guidelines. Recently we’d completed the rebranding of a multi-million pound construction services business and presented the brand guidelines and for the first time the question was put to me, “what is this and what do we do with it?”

It got me thinking about brand guidelines as a concept, what are they and why you need them.

Brand guidelines

This is a set of brand standards, it sets out the style and how your brand works. Great brands are led by their brand values and the brand identity should reflect those qualities. Your brand guidelines should lay this out and also help tell the brand story so that your entire company is on the same page.

We always express how important consistency is when it comes to a brand and brand application. Consistency builds trust and ensuring that everyone is playing by the rules will protect your investment. A brand is a key business asset and should be treated as such.

What’s in a set of brand guidelines?

How detailed your brand guidelines are will depend on your brand and the particular brand applications that are required. Your brand guidelines should be tailored to you depending on who will be using them, the purpose of producing them, where and how people will use or reference it.

As a general rule, we include the following in a set of brand guidelines, give or take a few things:

  • Introduction with company values or spirit
  • Tone of voice and copywriting style
  • The brand idea
  • The brand identity, do’s and don’ts for logo usage
  • Logo layout and structure
  • Graphic devices
  • Iconography and icon sets
  • Typography and hierarchy
  • Colour pallets
  • Photography or image style
  • Stationery, paper stocks
  • Email signatures
  • Social media
  • Signage, way finding
  • Car livery
  • Packaging
  • Uniforms
  • Contact details

How to use brand guidelines

Many of our clients have fed back to us and said that the brand guidelines have become a part of their induction process for new staff. It’s a guideline and discussion document to say this is how we look and this is how we interact with our customers. That’s priceless feedback and companies that have confidence in their brand can allow it to grow and thrive.

Brand guidelines should be used as a toolkit. Any visual communications should be replicated in the same vain as your guidelines to keep a consistent look and feel. Some brands have become so recognised and powerful that companies have trademarked colours, they do it for a reason so it’s really important to stick to your brand standards.

Brand guidelines aren’t set in stone

Remember to set regular reviews after the launch of your new brand. It’s important to see whether they are being followed, if there are any niggles with any particular area and address it. Reviews are important as brand guidelines aren’t set in stone. The business will grow, the market will change and as you use new mediums for visual communications, things will need to be added and updated on the brand guidelines.

In today’s world, brand guidelines aren’t restricted to look and feel. We have moving brands with visual idents that are alive, responsive and brand content is adaptive to where the communications are being consumed. From the outset, make sure that the brand and brand guidelines extend to all mediums and build a long-lasting brand that’s fit for purpose today and as the company grows.

When you rebrand, get the company involved early as team buy-in with branding will help ensure everyone follows the brand guidelines and become brand protectors.