Brand guidelines, corporate identity guidelines or a brand book? Whatever you want to call it, having a solid creative and strategic foundation for your business is extremely important.
Turquoise Creative can help you strengthen your branding by planning, designing and implementing your brand guidelines across all your marketing materials and channels.
There’s a good reason that larger companies create brand guidelines. Some larger brands even have publicly accessible brand websites. Check out Uber’s brand guidelines, Audi’s Brand Appearance, or Google’s visual guidelines for some examples.
Ultimately what you are looking for in creating a set of brand guidelines is guidance and control over how your brand looks, what it says and how it is perceived. Brand guidelines are equally important for internal users and customers alike. They offer a set of clear rules for how your brand identity/logo, colour palette, and messaging are represented to your audience.
However, they do so much more; they create consistency for your business or brand. They act as a point of reference for your Design Agency as they create your marketing collateral, website, and social media presence. They explain to the world what to expect from your brand. Let’s look at the value of brand guidelines and why you need to create yours.
How do you define your brand identity?
The best place to start clarifying your business’s personality is with your mission statement, differentiators, tone of voice and values. Each of these will help you establish what your business stands for, and will create a framework for the visual elements in your brand guidelines. As they evolve over time, you’ll be able to update your brand manual.
Now, think about your target audience and how you speak to them. Who buys your product or services? Why do they choose your business over your competition? Is your tone of voice professional and traditional or playful and unconventional? Now, consider your brand promise, attributes, and vision statement. How can you underpin each of these with how you’ll be represented to your audience?
What are brand guidelines?
First of all, brand guidelines (or a brand book, brand manual, or stylebook) are the standards required to represent your branding correctly. These standards are typically laid out in a document that details each of the following:
- Primary Colour Palette: the exact colours used in your logo including colour names and codes for different uses such as CMYK, HEX, and RGB. Think Coca-Cola red or UPS brown or Apple white.
- Second Colour Palette: any supporting colours that can be used to add variety or interest to other components like text, lines, or other assets. Think about complementary colours that will add to your primary palette and enhance it.
- Colour Variations: any colour variations of your logo that are allowed include black, white, transparent background, etc.
- Tagline logos: any versions of your logo with your tagline included. Think Just Do it from Nike.
- Abbreviations or acronyms of your company name: any version of your logo with a shortened version of your name. Think Coke, NCAA or TCM.
- Typography: a list of the main fonts or typefaces associated with your brand as well as any secondary fonts that can be used for headlines and body copy. This should also include directions on if or when you use all caps or only lowercase for each.
- Logo space requirements: will you require “padding” around your logo for certain uses? For instance, “our logo should always be surrounded by one inch of clear space on packaging.”
- How will these coordinate: how will you require that all these components work together? Think about anywhere your logo and branding could be including your website, social media, stationery, advertising, and more.
- Brand tone: should your brand always be speaking in a lively, fun, and energetic way? What about sophisticated, elegant, and stylish? Or perhaps bold, creative and rambunctious? (We like that last one best around here.)
- Grammar: will you require an oxford comma in your content? Should bullet points always have punctuation? Get specific about what you’ll expect from your copywriters.
- Examples of use: show instances of your logo, colours, and fonts applied to items like business cards, collaterals, advertising, packaging, T-shirts, and more. When in doubt, sample it out.
- Unacceptable uses: it’s important to show examples of what not to do with your logo including what colours not to use (You can bet that Pepsi never wants to see a drop of Coke red near its logo.): never stack the logo and name, don’t make it transparent, minimum size requirements for use, etc.
Why do you need brand guidelines?
Because everyone needs them. Skip the time you’d waste making these decisions as they come up one by one by simply determining the rules for your brand from the beginning. If you’ve ever had to figure out whether your business name should appear in ‘black‘ and ‘red‘ or just ‘black‘ or part ‘red‘ throughout your website, or fix all the instances where it doesn’t have a registered trademark symbol in your collaterals, you’ll thank us.
If you have a large sales staff who often have to create their own personalised collateral pieces, brand guidelines will be a lifesaver. Does the tagline always have to follow your business name? Your brand guidelines will make that plain. Cut down on the calls to Marketing today! If you often sponsor events and require that your logo looks a certain way on the fundraiser’s promotions, brand guidelines will help the charity get it right every time.
How should you share your guidelines: PDFs or presentations?
Now you know what they are and why you need them, so how do you present your brand manual? Should they live as PDFs that can easily be distributed and updated? Do you need something more formal that can be sent out to franchisees to share with their teams? Take some time to figure out what makes the most sense for your business. Don’t be afraid to flaunt your style and design aesthetic as part of your brand book with your colours and tone throughout. Not only does it lay out your guidelines clearly, but it also reinforces your brand every step of the way.
Future-proof your brand with a properly planned out and implemented set of brand guidelines.
Whether you are just starting out or are an established brand, as an experienced brand agency. If you still feeling stuck when it comes to how to communicate your brand and all of the elements that go with it? Turquoise Creative is here to help you design your brand identity/logo, clarify your branding, and create a set of guidelines for your business. Please contact us today to see how we can help.