You've just spent weeks, possibly months, working closely with a branding agency to develop your brand identity. You know how important it is to maintain your brand's integrity – but do others?
Chances are, whether you need marketing materials produced, trade show banners printed, or signage with your company logo in the correct dimensions – eventually, you'll need to coordinate with various vendors to help bring your brand to life. It's crucial that anyone handling your brand does so with confidence and care.
So, how do you ensure your brand remains intact once it passes from designer, to internal marketing team, to external organization? That's where your brand guidelines come in.
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines are a clear set of standards and rules for using and displaying all of your brand assets. You may also hear them referred to as style guides, brand manuals, or brand standards – even brand bibles. They can be very basic, one-page cheat sheets, or very complex documents that detail specific use-cases for all brand assets and communications.
Read on to learn what information should be included in your brand guidelines and why.
Mission & Vision
Your brand’s story, values, and vision for the future should be at the heart and start of every brand application. Including these core concepts in your brand guidelines helps set the tone and intention for the framework that’s to come. They also help to unify all members of your organization who will be using and upholding your brand standards. Reflecting on your company's mission can help remind everyone of their greater purpose and goals as a brand.
Voice & Language
How does your brand interact with its audience – what does it say and how? Making sure all brand communications sound consistent and “on-brand” is crucial for relationship building. Considering that 53% of social media users expect authenticity and transparency in brand communications, it's becoming clear that consumers want to feel connected to your brand now more than ever. Establishing an authentic voice helps build trust with your audience and increases customer loyalty.
Logos & Marks
Your brand’s logo and any supporting marks or lockups are crucial elements to get right every time. Using your logos incorrectly only creates confusion among your audience – in turn threatening the impact and integrity of your brand. Usually, brand guidelines will include lockups of your logo in a horizontal layout, vertical layout, or as a standalone icon or wordmark, along with use cases of each. Ideally, you should also be familiar with what file types are appropriate for various applications. Typically, a branding package may include:
Images: A high resolution .PNG or .JPG file that can be easily shared or accessed by all.
Raw file: A vector-based document such as .EPS, .SVG, or .PDF that should be handled by designers or vendors who may need to edit the file itself.
Typography & Type Treatments
Typography selection is thoughtful and deliberate. Having a set of rules for the correct typefaces and font styles is important for establishing hierarchy and ensuring legibility in brand communications. Guidelines should include text samples for headlines, sub-headlines, body copy, and any supporting text or important callouts.
Color, Imagery, & Graphic Style
Colors, photography style, and graphic patterns or swatches all help to convey the mood or feeling of a brand. Sometimes referred to as “Look & Feel,” these elements come together to aid in visual storytelling.
Color: Color is a powerful tool when used thoughtfully. Establishing primary, secondary, and tertiary color palettes helps improve brand recall and elicit an intended emotion. Brand guidelines should include color values in RGB/HEX, CMYK, and Pantone®, if applicable. These are especially important to have on hand when communicating with third-party vendors like printing companies, who need to know exact values and tones.
Imagery & Graphic Style: Similarly, all brand photography and graphics should possess similar characteristics – whether in tone, style, or content itself. You might see words like "warm," "optimistic," and "approachable" to describe imagery, but given their subjective nature, guidelines may also show examples of each of those qualities.
Brand guidelines help business owners, marketing teams, and external organizations stay cohesive and on-brand. They often provide a rationale for design parameters, do’s and don’ts for handling brand assets, and examples of various brand applications. In short: they ensure anyone handling your brand can do so with professionalism and ease.
Is your business in need of a strong brand identity to help position it for growth? Contact Indiegogh Creative for more information on our starter branding packages.