Are your brand guidelines working for you?

BRAND guidelines – most companies have them, but not everyone uses them.

Do you only ever refer to them when asked what pantone colour is in your logo?

Or are they only rolled out when you need a new brochure design?

When creating a new brand, company or product, it is natural as humans to jump ahead to the exciting design stage without doing the essential groundwork of developing brand guidelines.

But as the old saying goes "don’t put the cart before the horse".

So, what are brand guidelines and why are they so important?

Although some may not realise, every company already has its own brand - however without guidelines to help define it, it is very easy to become lost in today’s marketplace.

It is important to maintain a strong brand with a consistent tone. With set guides in place, you are less likely to stray off target.

I must stress that these are guidelines and not rules set in stone.

In fact, one of the keys to maintaining strong brand guidelines is keeping them flexible enough to move forward, progress and change.

I’m not suggesting that you should update your brand guidelines bible every week, but instead review them at least once a year to ensure they’re still aligned with your brand and vision as the company develops.

In today’s social media driven environment, you never know what new platform your brand guidelines need to fit into, therefore it is vital to check they are still valid.

Take your logo for example - where and how it sits will be different on almost every marketing channel.

Too often we see logos stretched to fit into a set size, but remember scale is the key.

Rather than a logo which looks distorted, it may be the case that a simple development of the logo is needed.

So, what should be included in your brand guidelines?

You’ll want them to be easy to digest, simple sections that are understandable.

This allows for future expansion and more evolved understanding of the brand you have and the message you are trying to deliver.

Some of the key areas to consider are:

Business overview – your vision, personality, values and history

Message – include what your business wants to achieve and your customer promise

Tone of voice – a short description of how the company should represent tone of voice, that is, the personality of your business

Colour palette - what colours are used in the brand – even consider a hierarchy of colours

Font – the fonts and styles of elements such as headers, sub headers, paragraphs and small text, along with the size ratios

Logo – how the logo should be used, size restrictions, space restrictions, colours to use and how it displays on different backgrounds and colours, as well as what not to do with the logo

Remember, guidelines can be adapted as the months and years progress.

Creativity still needs to play a key part to make sure your brand demonstrates, and retains, its own individuality.

Think we can help you with your brand identity? Get in touch and the thinkCreative team will talk you through what we can do for you.