Brand guidelines, also known as brand standards or style guides, are rules and instructions that define how a brand should be presented and communicated to maintain consistency and coherence across different mediums and channels.
Typically, they include guidelines on how to use:
- The brand name
- colour palette
- Tone of voice
- Other visual and verbal elements that define a brand’s identity.
By establishing clear and consistent guidelines for using a brand’s visual and verbal elements, you help to build brand recognition, reinforce the brand’s values and identity, and maintain a solid and recognisable brand image.
Additionally, brand guidelines can help to save time and resources by streamlining the creative process, ensuring quality control, and protecting a brand from unauthorised use and misuse.
Why Do You Need Brand Guidelines?
Your brand is more than just a logo or a tagline. It’s how your business presents itself to the world and how customers perceive and remember you. A robust and consistent brand identity can help build trust, recognition, and loyalty while setting you apart from the competition.
It’s essential to have clear and comprehensive brand guidelines in place if you want to build a strong and consistent brand identity. Here are some reasons why you need brand guidelines for your business:
Consistency is vital. By establishing clear and consistent guidelines for using your visual and verbal elements, you can ensure that your brand is presented consistently across all touchpoints. This helps to build brand recognition and reinforce the brand’s values and identity.
Similarly, uniformity enables users to find you more efficiently throughout the digital landscape. Searching for you on social media will be a breeze, as they can instantly recognise your familiar branding. Uniformity like this also decreases the likelihood that copycat accounts can impersonate you.
Brand guidelines can save time and resources by streamlining the creative process. You can ensure that all communications and marketing materials align with the brand’s values and positioning while providing a clear and efficient roadmap for the creative team.
Future marketing material will have a design foundation, making it easier for your creative or external team to start the project with minimal downtime. Many marketing agencies or marketing partners will ask for your brand guidelines upon starting. Depending on the project scope, they may require guidelines before they accept the work.
3. Quality Control
By providing clear guidelines, a business can ensure that all marketing and communication materials meet a certain level of quality and align with the brand’s values. This can help to prevent inconsistencies, errors, or misrepresentations that could harm the brand’s reputation and image.
Guidelines should contain everything you need to know about how to use a logo, what is or isn’t acceptable, and what tone of voice all messaging should follow. This level of quality control provides a valuable starting point for new employees while saving time on training particular marketing processes. As a resource, it is invaluable for streamlining the learning process and bringing new employees into the team.
Brand guidelines can help to protect a business from unauthorised use and misuse of its visual and verbal elements, which could harm its reputation and dilute its brand equity. By providing guidelines for using these elements, a business can ensure that its brand is presented consistently and accurately across all mediums and channels while protecting its intellectual property.
How Do You Create Brand Guidelines?
Creating brand guidelines can seem like a daunting task. While they don’t have to be professionally produced, it does help to gain assistance in designing an appealing-looking guidelines document for future use.
Brand guidelines are more than a document; they detail how you handle yourself as a business entity. As such, some elements need to be created before the document itself.
Typically, creating brand guidelines involves the following steps:
Define Your Brand
Clarify your brand’s values, personality, target audience, and unique selling proposition. This will help you to establish the foundation for your brand guidelines. It will also give you more profound clarity and knowledge of what sort of brand you are creating and what you’re trying to achieve.
This process, while often missed, can be invaluable to truly understanding what it is you’re offering to the market and to whom. Sometimes, this can raise important questions about your goals, targets and marketing direction.
Determine Your Visual Identity
Create a logo, colour palette, typography, and other visual elements that reflect your brand’s personality and positioning. Consider how these elements will be used across different mediums and channels, such as print, digital, and social media.
Your visual identity should reflect the market you’re entering while also encompassing your ideas and personality. It can be helpful to look at other brands in the space and see what they’re doing, if there are any noticeable norms or if what you are currently working on is too close to another competitor.
Establish Your Tone of Voice
Determine how your brand should sound and communicate with its target audience. Look at producing guidelines for language, style and messaging, as new employees will likely use these guidelines, or external marketing teams that need to be brought up to speed as efficiently as possible.
Double-checking these once completed is an essential step. Miscommunication, or communicating in a way that isn’t aligned with your brand, can damage your long-term brand perception.
Write detailed instructions for using your visual and verbal elements in different contexts. Consider how you want your logo to be used, its placement and positioning requirements. For instance, you may only want it to be used where there is sufficient space for it to retain its original size. Alternatively, you may present a different logo in instances where the original cannot.
New employees or external teams will only know this is needed if it is listed under these guidelines.
Similarly, how you use colour, typography, and tone of voice are critical elements. Ensure these are listed appropriately, with colour hex codes for your palette.
It can be helpful to provide tone of voice examples, such as how you would respond to commonly asked questions. This gives users a clear indication of the way they’re expected to respond as the brand.
Share your brand guidelines with all relevant stakeholders, such as internal teams, partners, and vendors. Enforce compliance with the guidelines to ensure your brand is presented consistently and accurately across all touchpoints.
While time has been taken to develop the perfect brand guidelines, it’s essential to understand that brand guidelines as a form of documentation are iterative, meaning the process may require ongoing updates and revisions. It would be best to revise your guidelines based on feedback, new mediums and changing brand needs.
When Should Your Business Have a Brand Guideline Created?
You should look to have your brand guideline created as soon as possible after establishing your brand identity. This can be at the business’s initial launch or when the brand identity has been recently updated or refined.
It’s helpful to create brand guidelines early in the business’s development, as they provide a roadmap for consistent branding and messaging.
Suppose a business is undergoing a rebranding process. In that case, it’s imperative to create new brand guidelines to ensure that the new brand identity is consistently and accurately reflected across all channels.
Should Your Brand Guidelines Be Made Publicly Available?
Whether or not to make brand guidelines publicly available is a decision that depends on the goals and needs of your business. Making brand guidelines publicly available, in some cases, can help build brand recognition, demonstrate professionalism, and attract new customers or partners. However, in other cases, making brand guidelines public may not be necessary or desirable.
You should consider the following if you want to make it publicly available:
- Intellectual property protection: Consider whether there are any elements of the brand identity that should not be made public to protect intellectual property and prevent unauthorised use or infringement.
- Clarity and accessibility: Make sure the brand guidelines are easy to understand and accessible for anyone interested in using or working with the brand.
- Consistency: Ensure that the brand guidelines are up-to-date and accurately reflect the current brand identity, messaging, and visual presentation.
- Strategic communication: Use the release of brand guidelines as an opportunity to communicate the brand’s values, personality, and unique selling proposition to a broader audience.
How Much Can You Expect to Pay For Brand Guidelines?
The cost of creating brand guidelines can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the project’s complexity, the organisation’s size, the level of detail required, and the experience and expertise of the designer or agency involved. Some organisations can create their brand guidelines in-house. In contrast, others may hire a branding agency or graphic designer to help them develop a comprehensive set of guidelines.
Creating brand guidelines can range from £100 to £10,000. For smaller organisations, the cost may be lower, while larger organisations with more complex needs may require a more comprehensive and customised approach, which can be more expensive.
It’s essential to keep in mind that brand guidelines are a long-term investment in a brand’s identity and consistency and that the benefits of having clear and comprehensive guidelines can often outweigh the initial cost.
Creating Your Businesses Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines are essential for businesses looking to build a strong and consistent brand identity. By establishing clear and consistent guidelines for visual and verbal elements, a business can ensure that its brand is presented consistently and accurately across all touchpoints while saving time and resources, ensuring quality control, and protecting its intellectual property.
Whether you’re just starting or looking to refine your existing brand identity, creating comprehensive and practical brand guidelines is essential in building a stronger and more recognisable brand identity. By taking the time to invest in brand guidelines, you can set your business apart from the competition, build trust and loyalty with your customers, and create a long-lasting and memorable brand identity.
If you don’t have the staff in-house to aid with developing your brand guidelines, we can help. Our in-house copywriters and designers can help you solidify your brand visuals while simultaneously helping perfect your tone of voice and messaging.
Get in touch, and let’s solidify your brand guidelines.