If your brand is going to be the ‘front page’ of your business, it needs to look good. Brand guidelines are a simple reference tool to remind everyone what the ‘front page’ should look like.
In order for the guidelines to be useful, they need to be clear, concise and easy to use. If they are overcomplicated, they will be ignored and won’t get the buy-in you want from your employees and agents; too simple and they might be open to interpretation. It all comes down to how much control you want to have over your brand.
Whether you publish your guidelines through a document or a website here are a few tips on what to include.
Simply outline what your business is, and what it stands for. It is useful to record the mission of your business to explain why you do things the way you do. This not only helps the reader understand the broad culture of your organisation but also puts the brand into context.
Most companies have a logo, whether it is simply their name in a particular font or an emblem that represents the brand. In this section, you should explain how the logo was conceived and what it represents.
You might have variations of the logo which are used in different ways depending on the context (for example a version with and without text), make sure you explain how these should be applied.
Don’t forget to include details of your corporate colours; the exact shade (Pantone reference) is important to ensure you use your brand consistently. Using the wrong shade of your corporate colours dilutes the brand.
Is there a particular font and size that you typically use in reports, websites, letters, business cards? If the answer is yes, you should include a section on your preferred typography for each medium.
This might seem tedious, but it ensures your employees and agents are consistent in the way they present information to your customers. You have probably experienced a situation where you receive two similar documents from two different employees of one organisation that are in two completely different styles. Whilst it is not a major issue, the power of your brand is in the consistent way in which it is implemented.
Take Starbucks for example, whether you are in your local shopping centre or on holiday in New Delhi, you know exactly what to expect. In actual fact, the predictability of their brand is the exact reason people go over and over again.
Does your organisation have a certain way of wording or referring to products or services? Maybe it’s a catchy phrase or a preference of one term over another when referring to your product. You need to keep your employees and agents informed of what these terms are so they can ‘walk the party line’.
This section should be all about the uniqueness of your sales approach, the thing that differentiates you from the rest and adds brand value.
How not to use the brand
Finally, consider how the brand should not be used and include some ‘no-nos’. This will hopefully prevent your brand being used in ways, which conflict with your mission.