Brand guidelines are, in most cases, created as soon as the new or updated visual brand is approved. Their simplest purpose is to share the function of the brand and showcase ways to apply it successfully. But how can you get the most value out of them over time?
A branding or rebranding project can demand quite a lot of energy within a business so it is important that the guidelines are created to record the ambitions as well as provide a clear usage guide. But after even a short amount of time, it can be easy to forget certain aspects or be tempted to stray off brand. The simplest and most effective strategy is to ensure easy access is provided to everyone who may need them. This informs everyone of the value and features that have been created and, most importantly, why.
Brand guidelines are usually made up of the following sections:
- Brand vision / mission / values
- Brand assets such as logo, colour palette and typography
- Helpful do's and don'ts
- Brand examples
- Contact information
They should also be easy to access for everyone who may need them. So don't hide them away in the Marketing department but make sure they are on your intranet and/or as a hard copy in the eg. the staff room or breakout space.
When brand guidelines are constantly accessible, you benefit from the following:
1. Internal buy-in from the whole business – especially in areas around brand values as they reflect the business values.
2. Consistency in brand application – if everyone knows what is right, it becomes a lot harder to break the rules!
3. Quick adherence from new team members – as they will understand the brand and its use from day one.
4. Save time when partnering with external organisations – so they can quickly get to the right assets and implement solutions that are on brand.
It is also far easier to create brand guidelines during or just after the branding project is complete, when everything is fresh in the mind of the project managers. It will take a lot more time to collate and construct brand guidelines some time afterwards as it requires a back-track through the thinking.
To ensure your brand guidelines stay relevant and as useful as they day they were created, make sure you conduct a regular audit of them and your brand assets and collateral. And, if necessary, follow that through with any necessary updates. Out of date brand guidelines are about as useful as a fork for eating soup and can also result in your brand going off-piste, damaging your hard earned brand equity.
In summary: create it, share it, celebrate it and maintain it to ensure you maximise the value of the brand you have created. It also makes for the best launch-pad when they day comes to review your visual brand or collateral.