How to Draft Brand Style Guidelines
Every brand needs a set of brand style guidelines in order to keep the brand consistent, correct and in line with its original concept. In a highly competitive, saturated modern market place, brands must compete heavily for customer attention – let alone loyalty – so the brand becomes more important than ever.
If you have invested time, money and energy in creating an impactful brand that resonates with your customers, then you will want to maintain it. By creating, sharing and consistently implementing your guidelines, this will become so much easier to do.
1. Write down your brand values, mission and purpose
These important statements are what drive the brand, far beyond the graphics and the designs used to represent it on paper or in print. Think about your brand’s personality. What does your business stand for? What does it exist for? What is your brand trying to say? The more you can define this, the easier it becomes to clarify your messaging and promotional marketing efforts.
In addition to these key attributes, add details about your target customer and the ideal customer persona. Elements of brand personality are also important to convey. For example, is your brand youthful or serious? Is it quirky or professional? Fresh and young, or historic and cultured?
2. Set rules for brand usage
Your graphic designer will be able to provide visuals that explain how the logo can be used and how it must not be used. These include rules that govern whiteout versions, distortion and sizing of the logo, adjustments of the logo, placement and so forth. Add plenty of visuals with guidance as to what is correct or what is wrong with each image, so that it is clear to all readers.
3. Share key messages
The brand is more than just a logo and you are likely to have key messages that you will want to share with your various customer groups. Add these to your brand guidelines so that your internal users don’t attempt to create new messages, and instead understand how they should use existing and approved messages. Add details of your media team and PR processes so that staff know to escalate requests for corporate messaging to the right people. This is a vital element of sound brand management and media training should be provided to relevant staff.
4. Explain applications
Provide examples of the brand in action and explain how it will work for digital and print assets alike. For example, show what an email template will look like once the branding is correctly applied. Show how your letterhead will appear. Demonstrate how the brand should be applied to promotional materials such as umbrellas and mugs.
Where templates exist – and they should – share details as to where these templates can be found and how they can be used. For example, who can commission print or digital customer materials? Who needs to sign them off? Where can resources and templates be found for different business activities? Remember too to store the logo varieties centrally along with any other digital assets that help to make up the brand’s creative. Usually, these graphic elements will be locked down by the graphic designer and marketing team, so think carefully about who you want to be able to access these materials and for what purposes.
5. Get feedback
When your guide is in production, share it with key internal stakeholders, such as sales managers, customer services staff, board members, suppliers and so forth. The right brand style guidelines will be able to guide these stakeholders in the correct usage of the brand.
6. Add useful information
Where common queries occur, include answers to them in the guidelines. Be very clear on the sign off processes for materials that will bear the brand so that the integrity of the brand can be upheld. Provide contact details for the marketing and PR team, and other individuals who may have ownership of brand-related processes. For example, a nominated staff member may be responsible for ordering branded business cards. Equally, share details of suppliers that internal managers may approach to reorder certain branded materials such as company letterhead or promotional items such as umbrellas, bags, pens or USB sticks.
7. Communicate and roll-out
Be sure to communicate the existence of the new guidelines across your business and save them in a shared digital repository via the cloud, so that they can be centrally updated and accessed by all within the organisation. Share the guidelines with suppliers too so that they have a reference when producing your company materials. Be clear that the guidelines are always to be followed and provide as much help to your employees as possible in the form of templates, print materials and other assets.
Get these steps right and you can have confidence that your brand will be maintained and positioned to grow strongly within its market.