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Brand Guidelines 101

  • Post category:Content Hub
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Starting a business can be a lengthy process but it’s an exciting one to say the least. Once your brand is nailed with a new look, your first crucial step (with is often overlooked) must be to develop a set of SIMPLE brand guidelines that will form your holy bible for all things going on in your business.

Your branding tells a story. It tells the world who you are, what you’re about and what people should expect when interacting with you and your business. But where most brands fail is in assuming that once the name is picked and the logo is done, they’re ready to rock and roll. Consistent and “guided” usage of your brand as you take your product or solution to market is what gets you noticed. It’s what keeps you being remembered time and after time. It’s also where the real conversions start to happen. So, guidelines are a pretty big deal.

But what do you need to include in a set of Brand Guidelines to get the most out of them? This week’s blog explores the essential elements required to create an effective set of Brand Guidelines, as well as reinforcing what NOT to include….

Let’s break this down for you… starting with a definition.

 

1. What are Brand Guidelines?  

Brand guidelines are designed to keep your brand messaging in order. Whether it’s online or offline touchpoints, your messaging needs to be consistent across all channels, marketing collateral and your website. Your brand guidelines will help to dictate what creative or copy decisions need to be made when it comes to putting anything out into the public space. 

Your guideline will usually come in the form of a short book or document that is a collection of digital and tangible brand elements to keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to portraying the right image of your brand to its target audience to help them recognise you. It’s a powerful tool that should empower you to believe in your brand and feel confident in its usage no matter who you are in the company, from the CEO to the entry-level exec. 

 

2. Why do we need them?

Here are a few reasons why creating a set of brand guidelines is super important for your business:

  • Provides Clarity – A clear set of Brand Guidelines helps you to stay focused on your mission and make better decisions.
  • Saves Time – We are all incredibly busy human beings meeting the ever-changing demands of today. Brand Guidelines allow you to implement your brand faster. Removing a lot of the hesitation, and fear with it all nicely laid out for you.
  • Enforces Differentiation – Branding helps you stand out from the competition, but only if you stay true to the quirks and nuisances of the brand you originally designed. Brand Guidelines help you to consistently live up to those promises.
  • Builds Recognition – A consistent brand helps customers know what quality to expect every time they interact with your business.
  • Grows Loyalty – it’s a fact. People choose and recommend companies they like and are familiar with. Not just on the customer-facing side either, but a consistent brand is also a vital part of your internal recruitment!

 

3. Ok, so we can agree that they are a big deal. What do you need to include?

As well as all the fun tangible stuff, your brand guidelines should outline the following brand strategy elements:

  • Brand Story

What’s your story? Why did you start your business and where do you want it to go? By setting goals you will find it easier to drive campaigns and deliver on your performance. Top tip – keep this super short and succinct.

  • Brand Mission

Focus on TODAY. What are you trying to achieve and how do you plan to do this?

  • Brand Vision

Focus on TOMORROW. What do you want to do to make the world a better place? How will your brand contribute to society or your wider industry in a positive way?

  • Audience Personas

Who is your ideal customer? Your brand should be a visual representation of them, from the font choices to the colour palette and the problem you solve. Your guidelines are simply a one-stop shop to bring this all to life.

  • Brand Values

What do you stand for? By having a clear set of values this will help with developing your content and having a clear line of communication as to why you’re doing what you are doing. The best way to agree your values is to get all of your team on board and carry out a workshop. Just like our friends at RE:geon did using Brene Brown’s framework. You can read more about that here.

  • Brand Messaging

Do you have a tagline? A snappy slogan to accompany your logo? Or maybe some key phrases or call to actions that are pivotal to telling your story or selling your product. Pop them right here!

  • Tone of Voice

How are you going to say what you want to say? Despite the cliche, think of your brand as a human being. Are you warm and friendly? Serious and authoritative? Soft and attentive? A consistent tone of voice goes a long way to driving conversations with your customers.

By knowing how you want your brand to talk, multiple people can work on your public posts behind the scenes seamlessly. All singing from the same hymn sheet (literally!)

  • And finally… YOUR BRAND IDENTITY!

What does your logo look like? Are there rules on its usage? For example, where it should be placed on your collateral. What colour palette represents your band best? Be sure to list out accurate colour references including CMYK (for print) as well as RGB and Hex Codes for digital.

 

4. Now… here’s what not to include:

Contrary to what some branding or design agencies might think, a brand guideline does NOT need to be a 100-page document that remains untouched on your shared drive because every time you open it confuses the hell out of you. Brand guidelines ARE NOT just for your marketing department or an outsourced agency. Your brand guidelines are a document for ANYONE and EVERYONE who represents your company. In theory, anyone should be able to pick up whether they’ve been with the business for 10 years or 2 days and be able to fully understand what the brand is all about.

They need to empower you to believe in your brand and feel confident in portraying it to the world.

  • They should not be lengthy
  • They should not be complicated
  • They should not be exclusive
  • They should not include your personal preferences

That’s why at Blue Moon, we believe in the power of a one-pager!

Sorry, what’s that? Keeping your brand guidelines to one page? Meaning that everything you need can be easily accessible on a single sheet of paper. Pinned to a wall for all to see. Yep, that screams perfection to us!

Here at Blue Moon, we love helping brands find their identities but more importantly we love helping them to consistently tell their stories. Whether we created your brand or not, we’re the experts in execution and are delighted to offer brand guideline simplification as a new service offering to our comms and marketing solutions!!

It’s about optimising what’s in front of you so if you need brand guidelines creating or existing ones, please contact us today! We would love to help your brand dreams come true!