Brand Guidelines are created at the brand creation stage or when rebranding or refresh work is carried out. The simplest purpose is to share how the brand works and how to use it. 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 brand ambitions and 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. So having constant access to them reminds us all 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 easy to use 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 much easier to create Brand Guidelines during or just after the branding project when everything is fresh. It will take a lot more time to collate and construct them some time afterwards and 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 your brand assets and applications and make any necessary updates. Out of date Brand Guidelines are about as useful as a fork for eating soup and it can encourage individuals to go off-piste and damage your hard earned brand equity.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.