Say you’ve spent a lot of time crafting the perfect message, logo, website, and marketing materials for your brand. You went back and forth with a designer to get your logo lined out just right. You worked with a content writer to craft an impactful and cohesive tagline and brand message. You even had custom business cards printed. But, none of this will stay consistent over time if you don’t have brand guidelines.
WHAT ARE BRAND GUIDELINES?
Brand guidelines are a set of tools and rules on how to use branding elements. These guidelines are used by our project managers, designers, writers, social media managers, web developers and anyone else involved with a project. The guidelines are usually presented in a book format that covers how branding works in a collaborative environment and how the different elements of the brand work together to form a brand identity. It’s EXTREMELY important that we pay attention to all branding elements before taking on ANY project.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN BRAND GUIDELINES?
Since no two brands are exactly the same, the elements included in brand guidelines may not look the same as a different brand’s guidelines. However, there are three common elements included in every brand identity guidelines:
1. The color palette that the brand uses.
2. The different typography associated with the brand including the various typefaces and families.
3. The different versions of the logo design and how they are to be used.
4. Graphic elements that can be used separately from a logo.
5. Symbols may be included if the brand contains any.
6. Wordmarks are included when appropriate.
7. Brand tone is also included if the brand has an established tone of voice for messages and content.
The elements in brand guidelines depend on the elements that make up a brand.
WHY DO YOU NEED BRAND GUIDELINES?
Now that you know what’s included in brand identity guidelines, you might be wondering why you need them. Brand guidelines should really be used as a tool to keep a brand consistent. Whether the business is large or small, brand guidelines are critical to helping a brand to work effectively.
In order for any brand to be effective, it needs to be consistent. Logo’s colors to better fit a certain marketing material, then it may not be recognizable to consumers or clients anymore. A style guide puts rules in place not to limit creativity, but to keep brand identity consistent and recognizable. With brand guidelines in place, we can ensure a brand’s elements are used effectively and look professional anytime they are used. And, when the elements in a brand are used in the correct way consistently, we can build a powerful and recognizable brand in every aspect.
SETS STANDARDS AND RULES
Brand’s guidelines will include more than just a color palette and versions of a logo. It contains specific rules and standards in which those elements are to be used. Not only will the guide contain things like different logo variations, but it will include examples of how not to use those logos. Rules like clear spacing around logos are just as important as knowing when to use the logo versus the wordmark. The guidelines will help anyone creating a message from the brand know and understand which elements to use and how to use them. It’s about consistency, but it’s also about knowing what’s right and wrong when it comes to using those brand elements.
Brand guidelines aren’t just about setting rules, though. They’re about providing you and anyone else sending out a message from a brand with the tools to keep branding consistent. The elements included in brand guidelines work together to create a cohesive message and those elements are the tools needed to create moving messages and iconic marketing communications.
Just because not that many people use the tools and elements outlined in brand guidelines doesn’t mean that will always be the case. To scale a company or just add one employee, then more and more people will be involved and part of the brand. Someone within the agency won’t know the rules of brand identity for each client, at least not right away. Having brand guidelines in place will help avoid confusion for those using the brand elements and keep branding consistent.