What are brand guidelines?
One of the greatest problems brands often face is staying consistent with their message over time. You create a strong visual identity, and all the elements of your brand are in place. Initially, you make a real impact, but eventually that impact becomes less tangible. You begin to drift away from your original ideas, members of your team change, new campaigns don’t reflect your branding and before you know it your brand has become undefined.
Consistency with a purpose is key to your brand’s success and the tools by which this is achieved are brand guidelines.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are a set of rules, guidelines and tools that determine how you use your branding elements. The guidelines are used by designers, writers, marketing professionals and anyone else who makes use of your brand’s elements such as your logo when they create marketing materials.
These guidelines will usually be presented in an easy to access format such as a book. Increasingly, they will available digitally, but hard copies of the guidelines can still be useful in helping to underline their importance. They will cover how your brand works, its values and how the different elements of your brand work together to form your brand identity.
Why are brand guidelines important?
Brand guidelines enable your brand to be effective as well as instantly recognisable. A style guide provides a framework for your creativity so that a new element doesn’t inadvertently undermine your branding efforts. The guidelines set rules and standards about what is used and when so that your logo and typography won’t be used inappropriately.
Your brand guidelines will also provide tools for anyone working on marketing materials for your business. They will help to avoid confusion, while ensuring that as your brand grows and develops, there is an easily referable set of guidelines available to help maintain consistency.
Should you wish to revisit your branding at a later date, your guidelines will help you understand how your branding has been working up until now and to review how things might be revised.
What should brand guidelines include?
No two brands are the same so the elements that are included in your brand guidelines will not be identical to any other brand’s guidelines. There are, however, common elements that will usually be included.
Firstly, the colour palette that your brand uses will be incorporated. This will help to ensure consistency in how your business appears. The different typography that’s associated with your brand, including the typefaces, will be in your guidelines. Different versions of your logo will be in your guidelines and how and when they will be used.
As well as these three basic elements of your brand guidelines, there is a range of other components that may be included. These might include other graphic elements such as symbols and wordmarks that are used separately from a logo. If your brand has an established tone of voice for messages and content, then this will also be included.
In short, the guidelines give you a practical and well-defined framework through which to build your marketing materials.
How do you establish your brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are established through creating brand elements that have grown out of brand traits and purpose. These might include your colour palette, logo, brand voice and all of your other brand elements.
This means that your brand guidelines should be established when you’re developing your brand. When you first create your brand voice and develop your visual identity this is when your guidelines should be drawn up and written down.
Dawn Creative work with companies to develop their brands, helping them find their own distinct brand voice and identity. We work with them to express that through brand elements and overall visual identity. By doing this we can help establish your brand guidelines to provide a framework for your brand’s marketing communications going forward.
Get in touch to find out more about our branding service and how we can help your business grow and develop.