First things first — What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines help explain how a brand and its associated marketing materials should be used internally and externally. This resource (if leveraged correctly) can be invaluable to a company, as it protects your investment in your brand. Setting your own guidelines gives you additional control over marketing practices, as well as ensuring that your brand has a consistent message. On a large scale, you lay out best advertising practices for each media channel and create a base from which you can build on. On a smaller scale, you won’t have to answer the same basic questions over and over!
The Basics — Logos, Fonts & Colors
One of the most integral parts of your brand identity is your business’ logo. The usage of your logo should be explicitly laid out in your guidelines. Imagine if your logo was displayed differently on every different media type, potential customers would be confused and may not even make the connection that all of your advertisements are for the same company. Using your brand identity guidelines, you lay out exactly when and how your logo (or which logo, if you have multiple) is used. It is also important to set in stone exactly how your logo may be used in relation to other business’ logos. For example, when displaying your logo alongside other logos, your logo would ideally be the same size or larger.
Establishing a base for all produced creative materials will streamline the creation of marketing materials for your company and save you vast amounts of time in the long run. Regulating minor things like the fonts and text colors to be used will eliminate being asked the same questions multiple times, and having a list of hex color codes to pull from is exponentially easier to navigate than having the entire color wheel at your disposal. Knowing precisely which logo should be used on a particular media type, along with the set fonts and color palette will provide a solid foundation to build on.
Focus on Consistent Messaging
Implementing a template or layout can take this concept to the next level. If the branding on the ad is already laid out, so you can spend more time on your advertisement’s message. This brings us to the another goal of your brand identity guidelines: to eliminate confusion between your brand and another and to cut through the white noise in the marketplace. Establishing a proper procedure for each type of media and sticking with it will ensure that your company is represented in a consistent and recognizable way. If your business had two locations, would you use two different versions of the logo on the exterior? You’d want to use the same logo and sign layout to achieve brand recognition in your community.
How to Create Your Own Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines can be executed in a multitude of ways, so long as the basics are covered and it helps your brand focus on consistent messaging. Take a look at two examples of brand identity guidelines below and note the differences and similarities:
Mozilla’s Firefox branding guidelines are brief but effective.
Nike’s Football (or Soccer, depending on the continent) Division’s branding guidelines are more in depth and show the emotion that they want to evoke through their branding.
Brand identity guidelines can be succinct or expansive, very simple or extremely detailed. One company’s guidelines will vary greatly from another, even within the same industry. Establishing comprehensive guidelines for your company not only gives you more creative control over your advertisements, but it keeps your message consistent and protects your investment in the company. Setting up your guidelines sets your company up to succeed, and failing to do so puts your company at risk of brand confusion — something that hurts your business in the short and long term.
If you would like to discuss developing branding guidelines for your business, we’re more than happy to have that discussion. The Alter Endeavors team consists of several branding experts — both in conception and execution.