Most companies spend a lot of time – and money – on their brand. You may find yourself sitting for hours pondering logo options with designers – the fonts, the colours, what should the strapline be? But no matter how long you pour over website designs or discuss marketing materials in great depth, without brand guidelines, your business’ identity will be inconsistent, messy and potentially unrecognisable.
So what exactly are brand guidelines? Brand guidelines work in a multiple different ways, they are a comprehensive manual for anyone who uses your brand in their work – this includes employees, channel partners, designers and agencies. As well as laying out a clear example of how employees and external companies connected to your business should use your brand to achieve your company’s objectives, they also provide practical and detailed instructions on how to use your brand elements consistently.
As you can already tell, consistency is key. Imagine seeing the Nike logo back to front, or the McDonalds logo in illuminous pink? Brand guidelines help to keep your message clear and on point, every time someone sees your brand it should be evident who you are and the values you strive for.
Brand guidelines can be as in depth or as loose as you feel necessary. Some companies have guidelines that are hundreds of pages long and go into every minute detail, from how the logo can be used in a variety of colours, to templates for stationery and advertising campaigns. Others – including some of the biggest companies in the world – have smaller looser types of guidelines that, whilst keeping a tight rein on the core essentials of the brand (logo colours, placement, minimum size etc), allow designers more flexibility.
Guidelines should never be set in stone, it’s impossible to produce a document that caters for every eventuality, guidelines, and their creators, should be open to communication and suggestions and the guidelines should be an ever-changing beast that evolves with the world around them.
For example, in the past all you had to care about was how the logo appeared on a letterhead, now you have to take into account websites – both desktop and mobile – advertising and, more recently, social media. Each comes with its own restrictions and limitations which your company brand must navigate while still remaining consistent and on-brand.
Guidelines are also about how NOT to use your brand, what to avoid and to stop it being used in a way that devalues the brand message. The ideal time to set up your guidelines is after you have established a logo, colours, your brand voice and all your other elements. If you are just getting started this is the perfect time to have your branding done and guidelines developed, you can set the tone right from the start.
But what if your company is already established? Well, it’s never too late to take stock and look at your message and have guidelines created, nothing is set in stone, the guidelines will help to back up and maintain your current look and feel.
Here at Generate UK, we have a long history of working with clients to develop brand guidelines and more importantly help to keep their powerful brand consistent. If you would like to discuss your brand with us please don’t hesitate to get in contact.