You’ve spent a lot of time crafting the perfect message, logo, website, and marketing materials for your brand. You went back and forth with a designer to get your logo lined out just right. You worked with a content writer to craft an impactful and cohesive tagline and brand message. You even had custom business cards printed. But, none of this will stay consistent over time if you don’t have brand guidelines.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are a set of tools and rules on how to use your branding elements. The guidelines are used by designers, writers, and anyone else using your brand’s elements like your logo to create marketing materials.
The guidelines are usually presented in a book format that covers how your brand works and how the different elements of your brand work together to form your brand identity.
What’s included in brand guidelines?
Since no two brands are exactly the same, the elements included in your brand guidelines may not look the same as a different brand’s guidelines. However, there are three common elements included in every brand identity guidelines:
- The color palette that your brand uses.
- The different typography associated with your brand including the various typefaces and families.
- The different versions of your logo design and how they are to be used.
While those three elements are included in almost every set of brand guidelines, there are other elements that can be included:
- Graphic elements that can be used separately from a logo.
- Symbols may be included, if your brand contains any.
- Wordmarks are included when appropriate.
- Brand tone is also included, if your brand has an established tone of voice for messages and content.
The elements in brand guidelines depend on the elements that make up your brand.
Why do you need brand guidelines?
Now that you know what’s included in brand identity guidelines, you might be wondering why you need them.
Brand guidelines should really be used as a tool to keep your brand consistent. Whether your business is large or small, brand guidelines are critical to helping your brand to work effectively. Without these guidelines, your brand’s message can change at any point just because a logo was used improperly or because someone didn’t know to use the wordmark instead of a graphic element.
Here are just a few of the reasons you need guidelines:
In order for any brand to be effective, it needs to be consistent. If you change your logo’s colors to better fit a certain marketing material, then it may not be recognizable to your consumers or clients anymore.
A style guide puts rules in place not to limit creativity, but to keep your brand identity consistent and recognizable. With brand guidelines in place, you can ensure your brand’s elements are used effectively and look professional anytime they are used.
And, when the elements in your brand are used in the correct way consistently, you can build a powerful and recognizable brand.
Sets Standards and Rules
Your brand’s guidelines will include more than just a color palette and versions of your logo. It will contain specific rules and standards in which those elements are to be used.
Not only will the guide contain things like different logo variations, but it will include examples of how not to use those logos. Rules like clear spacing around logos are just as important as knowing when to use the logo versus the wordmark.
The guidelines will help anyone creating a message from the brand know and understand which elements to use and how to use them. It’s about consistency, but it’s also about knowing what’s right and wrong when it comes to using those brand elements.
Your brand guidelines aren’t just about setting rules, though. They’re about providing you and anyone else sending out a message from your brand with the tools to keep your branding consistent.
The elements included in your brand guidelines work together to create a cohesive message and those elements are the tools you need to create moving messages and iconic marketing communications.
Just because not that many people use the tools and elements outlined in your brand guidelines doesn’t mean that will always be the case. If you’re looking to scale your company or just add one employee, then more and more people will be involved and part of your brand. You need something to keep your brand consistent and cohesive.
You know your brand like the back of your hand because you created it. A new employee won’t know the rules of your brand identity, at least not right away. Having brand guidelines in place will help avoid confusion for those using the brand elements and keep your brand consistent.
How do I get brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are created after establishing a color palette, logo, brand voice, and all of your other brand elements. If you are just now building your business and brand, then it’s a perfect time to have your branding done and your guidelines created. If you want some help getting started, you can check out our free branding infographic or take our branding quiz.
If your brand is already well established, but you don’t have brand guidelines, we’d love to help. It’s never too late to develop brand identity guidelines. In fact, recognizing you need them means it’s the perfect time to have them created.
Remember that without guidelines, it’s nearly impossible to keep your branding consistent. So, in order to build and maintain a powerful brand, you need brand guidelines. If you’re ready to create your brand identity guidelines, then you need a strategic marketing team to help you define your brand’s elements and the best uses for them.
If you’re thinking about rebranding or want to know if your brand is on track, we recommend reading these additional posts: