At the heart of any effective brand strategy are sound brand guidelines. They are a key tool for brand management and guardianship. Solid guidelines help maintain the strength of your brand as it builds equity, adding value to your business or organisation. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets and is often the first point of contact a client or prospect has with your company.
You invest substantial amounts of money in defining and creating your brand so why compromise it’s performance through misuse of your highly valuable brand identity?
Your brand guidelines are in essence a comprehensive manual for anyone who is responsible for using your brand identity’s elements. This may be for internal marketing such as presentations, policy documents, newsletters or for external use such as creative agencies, publishers, partners. It’s surprising how many people will be responsible for using your brand identity at some point in the future – printers, newspapers, signage companies, embroidery companies. The list goes on. Without sound guidelines your brand identity can quickly become fragmented and misused.
Everyone must understand the value of your brand and know how to use it at all times. Wolff Olins carried out a study in 2005 which found that brand guided companies outperform their competitors with improved profitability.
Across all marketing touch points it is crucial that your brand is consistently used. This reflects how your business or organisation operates. Your brand is a set of associations that a person or group of people have with a company or product. A consistent, well organised brand identity creates positive perception across all stakeholder groups. It shows that you care about finer details.
Brand Guidelines are for companies and organisations of all sizes
The size of your business or organisation determines how substantial your brand guidelines should be. Regardless of the size of your organisation there are basics which should always be included within the guidelines. These should include the visual language of the logo including size, positioning, type, colour (print and digital), incorrect use, correct file format for different purposes, straplines if applicable. A larger organisation may have multiple variations of their logo for use in different environments and at a multitude of sizes. They may include detailed information about literature and touch points. Vision, values and purpose are included within guidelines for large organisations in addition to information about language, photographic language and personality. It is common for a large organisation to provide guidelines on how to dress, what fragrance to wear, what shoes to wear when meeting clients. Image is everything. First impressions last.
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