A brand isn’t all about the logo, it’s made up of many carefully planned out elements. Yeah, sure, the logo is a major part of it, but it also includes colour palette, typography, graphic elements, image style, tone of voice and much more.
Take a look at the following and see if you can guess the well known brand without even having to see the logo…
I imagine you probably got most of them and that’s because… yep, you guessed it, those brands have a solid brand style (or identity).
They each have a brand language that remains consistent through all forms of communication and their identity clearly expresses the brand promise, which maintains our confidence in them and in part helps to build relationships between us (the audience) and them.
Why are brand guidelines so important?
So let’s say you’ve employed your favourite marketing agency (Factor 3) to craft you the *ahem* perfect logo, you have a strong brand identity running throughout all your marketing materials, and everything’s looking consistent from stationery to website.
You might think that, as your brand identity has been created for you, that’s the end of it. But in the same way that we wouldn’t expect you to bake a cake with nothing but a photo of what the cake should look like…
…Likewise we wouldn’t expect you to produce collateral for your brand without a set of brand guidelines.
What exactly are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines educate and demonstrate to all those responsible for creating brand collateral (whether it be employees or future designers and writers) what the brand represents and how to correctly and effectively implement it. Brand guidelines should not be used as a rule book to constrain or hinder good creative expression – think more brand life jacket than strait jacket.
What’s included in brand guidelines
As no two clients are the same, likewise every set of brand guidelines is different.
However, there are typically four key elements that will be included:
1. The brand promise
2. Different versions of the logo and how they should be used
3. The colour palette used
4. The different typography associated with your brand and the styles of headers, sub headers and body copy etc
A more extensive set of guidelines may also include:
- Graphic elements used to represent your brand
- Icons and symbols if provided
- The tone of voice to be used for marketing content
- Imagery, style of photography and illustration
- Templates for items such as stationery as well as guidance for other collateral such as brochures, signage and advertising
The secret to maintaining a strong brand is making sure that, at every touch point, you communicate with a consistent style, and this can only be achieved with a clear and concise set of brand guidelines that are regularly revisited to ensure they serve the needs of the business and, crucially, its customers. That will ensure everyone knows what’s right and wrong when it comes to using your brand elements.