We know we talk about it a lot, but consistency is everything when it comes to branding. But how do you ensure brand consistency? Creating brand guidelines (a style guide) that clearly explains how to use your branding, will ensure consistency and professionalism. Brand guidelines quickly communicate your brand requirements as your business grows.
What are brand guidelines?
It’s essentially a rulebook of how to use everything that makes up the look and feel of your brand. So that’s everything from your colour palette, to typography, logo and graphics. This is how you let people know exactly how your brand should look and be presented. So, you can include information about how to format blog posts, Instagram posts, business cars and even your office space.
1. Start with a great brand story
People buy into stories, and each brands story differs from company to company. But, behind every successful brand, lives a compelling story. Brand stories tie your businesses vision, mission, and core values together.
The good news is, you don’t need to start from scratch. Draw inspiration for yours from brands like Facebook, Trello (Atlassian) and Skype.
The main thing to remember is that brand stories wrap up a company’s vision, mission, and core values in one nice little package. Your aim should be to create a brand story that shows the world what your business is about.
2. Make your logo your recognisable signature
Your logo should be recognisable as belonging to your brand. But, to make your logo recognisable, you have to use it consistently. That’s where your brand guidelines come in. Logo usage rules within your brand guidelines should exist to make sure nobody sends the wrong message with your brand. So, you need to get really specific.
As well as specifications on how much space and what colour to use, show examples of how to use and how NOT to use your logo. Make it completely foolproof because what seems obvious to you, may not be obvious to another party.
It’s also a great idea to specify the smallest size your logo can be used. This stops it from being used somewhere and ending up so tiny, you can’t see it.
3. Get serious about your brands colour palette
Make your core brand colours consistent and clearly define them in your brand guidelines. Whether you have one primary colour or a specific combination, you need to make this obvious. So, include the right colour codes (hex, CMKY and RGB values) to make sure only your brand colours are used.
Another thing to consider is showing examples of how to use each colour. Giving examples of do’s and don’ts are a big part of brand guidelines.
4. Make your typography really specific
Poor typography sticks out like a sore thumb and inconsistencies can cheapen your brand. To avoid this, define which fonts you use and when they are used. For example, you may use a different font for online media than you do for print.
So, when it comes to your font and design hierarchy, be specific about how you use different fonts for headers, subheaders and long-form text.
But, you don’t need to go overboard and make this section too extensive unless you use different fonts across different platforms. Usually, it’s best to focus on the fonts you use the most coupled with a simple explanation on when and how to use them.
5. Leave nothing to chance by including imagery guidelines
Everything about the images you use, including style, colour, and content, adds to your brands’ perception.
So, protect it at all costs by creating guidelines for any type of imagery you use. This includes photos, infographics, illustrations and even graphs.
For example, if you like to use photography, you may give instructions on the type of lighting, angles and colour. Whereas you may direct graphic designers on how you like to use shadows and shapes in your illustrations. The main thing is to always include examples and dictate when and where to use certain types of imagery.
It is so easy to overlook the importance of brand guidelines but they are essential to harnessing a consistent brand experience. It’s the best way of fostering the right brand perception and ensuring that everyone who comes into contact with your business is on the same page.
The steps in this guide will help you get started, but a branding design agency can take your brand to the next level. So, get in touch to speak to one of our specialists about developing your brand guidelines.