After receiving a new design brief and discussing aims, objectives and ideas, a Designer's first question is, “Do they have brand guidelines?”
The response will be a sliding scale from a surprising “yes, an extensive set” to the dreaded “no”.
Although having no guidelines gives a level of creative freedom, which designers love, it can also result in a guessing game, adding additional time and potentially an additional cost to a project.
Brand guidelines are a set of rules and guidance that define how a brand is represented visually and tonally.
They include brand logo(s), typography, colour palette, imagery, tone of voice, personality and other design elements.
In essence, they are the key components of a brand's identity, which help control how a brand is perceived by its audience and can help establish a professional and trustworthy image that inspires confidence.
They serve as a protective measure for the brand's integrity and are a reference for quality control.
Branding shapes how products/services are portrayed to customers and is a vital part to creating a successful, long-lasting business.
Guidelines provide a reference for branding decisions, making it easier to create marketing materials quickly and efficiently.
Consistency in branding is the key to creating a recognisable and memorable brand.
Guidelines ensure this consistency by establishing rules in all marketing materials for all stakeholders that may work on the brand.
Brand consistency equates to brand recognition, contributing to consumer confidence, building trust and brand loyalty.
Consistent messaging gives more opportunities to highlight the brand personality and ethos. In turn, this leads to customers being able to relate to a brand more easily, building connections and generating sales.
A strong brand helps a business to stand out in a competitive marketplace, grow and attract new customers. If branding is consistent across marketing, this can strengthen a brand. Otherwise, it can confuse and alienate customers, ultimately leading to a loss of trust and sales.
By defining a brand's positioning, you can ensure that messaging and imagery are aligned with the overall brand values.
A recent survey by Akeneo found that “40% of customers are willing to pay a premium for brands that align with their values.
Finding and connecting with an audience of like-minded consumers drives strong, loyal relationships that can withstand tumultuous economic conditions.”
As well as being a key tool for Designers, brand guidelines also play an important role in communicating with employees and third parties.
Having clear, documented guidelines is important to ensure everyone understands your company's brand identity, message, and values.
From UI design to printed materials, they provide a framework that can be applied across all media.
When employees are equipped with brand guidelines, they can easily understand and explain the brand message to customers, helping to create a cohesive and professional brand image.
Depending on time, budget and requirements, we can create different levels of guidelines from basic to advanced:
Basic brand guidelines:
Intermediate brand guidelines:
Basic set above plus intermediate additions.
Tone of voice:
Advanced brand guidelines:
Immediate set above plus advanced additions.
Brand mission statement:
The guidelines can be used as a vehicle for visually bringing the brand to life, as opposed to a purely practical document of information.
As well as designing the more traditional printed brand guidelines, we also build public/private websites housing the guidelines.
These online hubs contain assets that can be downloaded, such as logos and icons, with basic design files. There is also the option to include website component libraries if required for a larger project.
This is a fantastic way to have a central hub that can be easily accessed and updated.
Brands naturally evolve and expand with internal changes, market changes, and new opportunities.
Advancements in technology and the introduction of new platforms also gives scope for guidelines updates.
In these instances, design changes should be reflected in updated brand guidelines. Ensuring that as the business expands to new regions, develops new products or services, or targets new audiences, the look and feel remain consistent.
We recommend auditing and assessing guidelines every 3 years and making minor adjustments.
For major amends/brand refreshes, we recommend 3+ years.
We have created multiple brand guidelines across print and digital, enabling us to lead the way as brand guardians.
Looking to refresh your brand guidelines and gain consistency with your messaging? Contact our team today to chat about your brand and its values.