You’ve spent a lot of time with a web designer creating a site that encompasses your values and you've worked with graphic designers to create the perfect logo. But when the professionals are gone, how do you keep consistency within your brand? How can you make sure that your staff are representing your company appropriately? As usual, we're here to help! Read our latest post on the importance of brand guidelines.
1. What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are simply a set of rules for your staff and external providers to follow to ensure consistency and coherence across all of your digital and written collateral. Every brand’s guidelines will be slightly different - as they should represent the values of that individual organisation - but all are made up from these 5 founding elements:
Depending on what makes up your brand and what kind of service(s) you provide, you will require outlines on other additional elements.
2. How and why do you use them?
Making your brand stand out is important to any successful business, and having a consistent appearance makes you and your services recognisable. You want people to see you as reliable and feel confident using your services.
These guides should provide a set of tools for any individual to use and keep your branding consistent. It helps, then, to collect these standards into one document and make it available to anyone that has any responsibility for communicating with your customers. It’s also a good idea to have your brand guidelines available publicly, as a way to help share your values and approach.
3. Where do I start?
Now we’ve established what they are, let’s talk about creating your guides. Back at item 1, we discussed the founding elements that make up all basic guidelines. So, let’s start there. Here, I’ve highlighted what you need to consider for each element:
Logos: do you have different versions of the logo for different uses? Is there a set of different coloured logos? Are there size restrictions and margin preferences? Include examples of what not to do with the logo.
Colour palette: what are your principal colours? What colours compliment that palette? Identify the pantone swatches if you can along with CMYK, RGB and HEX information.
Typography: what font is appropriate for headers, sub-headers, body and small print? Do you use different fonts in different situations i.e. online, print, newsletters? What colours do you use? Remember to include font weight and size i.e. Open Sans Bold (35px).
Visuals: what kind of visuals does your brand use i.e. illustrations, photography, icons? Where do you source them from? Are there keywords you use to identify appropriate material? What do you avoid using? Remember to clarify what resolution you require for different media.
Voice: what tone do you want to use? Is there a specific persona you want to come through your communications? What perceptions about your brand do you want your clients to have when they interact with you? Your voice is a big part of your identity so make sure to take some time on this one.
With those questions answered, you have now documented the basics. Start with those and work with them. This might be all you need. As with all your business processes and activities, review them on a regular basis and add anything you've missed, or change what isn't working.
We recently documented our own brand guidelines and published them as an e-book to give you an example of what a guide looks like. Check it out over our on Guides page, along with the other e-books we have on there.
And, as always, if you need any help putting your own guidelines together or would like a review of your brand’s current identity, please contact us. We’re passionate about building strong brands and would love to support yours!