If you are a busy business owner, we accept that putting together brand guidelines may not be at the top of your priority list. But there are several important reasons why you should make it a priority.
In this article we are going to explain why brand guidelines are important for your business, what should be in them and more importantly, where to start!
So, why are brand guidelines are important?
Brand assets represent your brand identity both visually and verbally and help to communicate your brand values to your customers.
These assets represent your business in all communications, internally, and externally on the page and on screen.
- Corporate colours
- Chosen fonts for both hard copy (brochures, letters etc.) and on your website
- Your tagline (and font if different from above)
- Brochures and catalogues
- Promotional flyers
- Exhibition stands and banners
- Social media profiles
- Branded packaging
- Letterheads and business cards
Brand guidelines will ensure that your company is represented consistently across all media and maintains a strong identity that resonates with your target audience across all communications and on all platforms.
How your company communicates, the tone of voice, the font used, the colours, the image style and of course your logo, all work together to create an easily identifiable persona for your brand.
Just think about some of the major brands such as McDonald’s, Nike, or Coca-Cola.
Even if you take the logo away from their advertisements, they are still recognisable.
- Brand recognition depends on consistency, so repetition and replication in the mind of the consumer will help to increase your chances of identification.
- If you have a marketing team, a brand guideline document will help to steer their thinking in the right direction, improve teamwork and speed up the decision making process. Clear guidelines produce clear communication.
- Your brand identity will take on a persona far and above what you sell, whether a product or a service. If your brand isn’t clear, your message will be watered down or confused, and customers may struggle to understand what your brand represents.
- We are all bombarded by mediocre marketing content every day! In order to stand out from your competitors you need to be easily recognised, consistent and persistent.
- You may have a number of different external agencies helping you, for example:
- Stand builders for exhibitions
- Social media agency
- Website building/hosting/maintenance
- PR company
- Content writers
- Advertising agency
- Etc.With the possibility of different agencies on board, it is imperative that they all follow the same rules to make sure that your brand retains its integrity.
- Customers often feel an emotional connection or that their personal values are shared by certain brands. If your value resonate with your audience, you will win their loyalty.
The first step – inventory brand assets
The first step to creating or updating brand guidelines is to conduct a thorough inventory of your brand assets and collateral across all media channels and platforms.
You cannot move forward if you don’t know what you already have!
You may be surprised to find that you have several different versions of your logo, receive internal communications from staff who have been with your company a long time that are written on old letterheads in the wrong font etc.
It is important that all staff, whether in the marketing team or not, use the correct assets relevant to their communication needs.
Once you know what you have, document it so you can see all the assets and collateral, where they are stored (in a central folder or library for example), and how and when they are used.
This will help you to assess whether your brand is consistent or confused and how effectively the assets are used throughout communications.
The second step – refining brand assets
Once you have assessed where you are and how effective the assets are to conveying your brand identity, you can start to select what elements may need updating to reflect a new vision or messaging for example.
You can identify old assets and collateral that are no longer being used but may still be stored in the library. These should be archived to avoid them being used.
The third step – updating/replacing brand assets
Once you have archived old brand assets, you may find that you need to update or even replace existing ones.
For example, your company may have changed direction, and the current font or company colours do not really represent your new messaging or target audience.
The same can be said of logos. In fact, it is quite an interesting experiment to search on Google for some famous brands and see how their logos have changed over the years!
The fourth step – monitor and review brand assets
You will need to monitor and review your brand assets going forward to make sure they are still doing an effective job in representing your brand.
They should be consistent and relevant to both your brand and target audience. They may need to be modified at regular intervals to reflect any changes to your brand message, brand identity, or business/marketing strategy.
What are the essentials?
It is really up to you how restrictive or complicated you make your brand guidelines, but even if you are a small company and feel that they don’t matter, you should include the following as a minimum:
- A logo
- Brand colours – primary and secondary colour
- Fonts – one for website; one for hard copy collateral (you may feel you would like a third for internal communications)
- Mission statement
- Tagline and how it should be represented
Other assets you may think of including are a brand story, your core values, and the tone of voice for written and spoken communications.
Some companies even create a persona for their brand in the way that companies may put together a customer avatar for their ideal client.
If you need help in creating or modifying brand assets or guidelines and want to discover more about why brand guidelines are important to your business, why not chat to us about your vision?
Rebus Creative offers a range of marketing services, working closely with our clients to help them to achieve results. Alternatively, you may want to take advantage of our free marketing and branding audit to save you the trouble?