Brand Guidelines on the Backburner? Here's How to go About Them

5th April 2017

The typical marketing department of a successful company operates at a million miles an hour – and that’s the way it should be.  The seemingly never ending  cycle of producing content, having it signed off by the relevant parties and getting it out into a targeted domain can conquer all before it, leaving little time to look at the bigger picture.

If this sounds like your company, there is a chance you may have neglected to produce a set of brand guidelines; not because you don’t think they are useful, but due to the fact you simply haven’t had the time. But a well crafted set of brand guidelines can actually save time in the long run, and minimise the potential for marketing mistakes.

Convinced? If you’ve ring fenced some time to get your brand guidelines done, allow us to highlight a few essentials:

Brand overview

While in some cases an employee referring to brand guidelines might be the person who wrote them, it should be assumed the reader requires a full briefing. Team members come and go, but your brand guidelines should stand the test of time as a resource – so it helps to start at the beginning.

What is the history of your brand, and what are its key values and objectives today?  Your objectives and values should relate to the way in which you wish to project your organisation’s image in the public domain. After all, isn’t that what a brand does? This section serves to provide vital background, as well as shape the rest of the document.

Tone of voice

Time to put some meat on the bones. Every piece of textual marketing output – from press releases to blogs and adverts – will have a tone of voice. What is your brand’s tone of voice? Include as many examples as possible.

Type specifications

Staying with text, you should lay out the details of the fonts you wish to use for marketing output on the web, in marketing collateral, for adverts, and so on. These may vary according to where the text is used, but remember to keep a level of consistency.  Specify the font family and default fonts you wish to use for headings, sub headings and body text, before setting a standard for minimum and maximum font size. As in the preceding section, your choices should relate back to your brand objectives in the overview.

Logos

You need to set out clearly where your logo can and cannot be used. A minimum size it should be displayed in is important, and the reader should be instructed where digital versions of your logo are kept, so you know that only verified versions are being used for all media platforms (on and offline). You might also add some rules on whether your logo can be used in black and white or not, and if it can, when? The same should apply to backgrounds – should your logo be used over busy or coloured backgrounds, or does there need to be a clear space around it? Colour is an element we will move onto next.

Colour palette

Two’s company, three’s a crowd. On the whole, organisations will choose a primary and secondary colour for their brands – including their logo and graphics - which can be used for different purposes across multiple channels. State exactly what the colours are for all media, including RGB, CMYK and HEX key, and when it is appropriate to use them.

Imagery

There is a good possibility your marketing activity will involve imagery at some point, and this too should be incorporated into your brand guidelines. If you are producing an advert, whether internally or through an external agency, are there certain types of images which align with your brand, and others which are a no-go? Take the case of a company which intends their brand to resonate with a youthful audience – it would be logical to specify that no photos featuring subjects over the age of XX should appear in their marketing output.

So there you have it, some essentials for brand guidelines; a document which can give you some control on marketing’s runaway train. 

 


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