If brand management is part of your job description you know how difficult it can be to ensure the brand message is consistently reflected across internal departments, service providers and target audience. Moreover, it takes time and effort to communicate what the brand is all about, how is it different from the competitors, what the brand values are, and how these values should be promoted to the target audience.
For these reasons I believe that brand guidelines are a must for every company that wants to build a strong brand. Often overlooked, these documents help the brand manager maintain the consistency of the brand portfolio by ensuring that people who come in contact with the brand will not alter its substance.
What Are Brand Guidelines?
Also known as brand manuals or brand standards, brand guidelines summarize what the brand is all about from a strategic perspective and provide detailed instructions on how the brand identity elements such as the logo, color scheme and fonts should be developed, used, and communicated.
Why Should My Company Care?
Your company should create standards for all the brands in its portfolio in order to:
- Ensure the brand message is reproduced correctly, consistently, and in line with the company objectives across different departments, communication channels and suppliers
- Help graphic designers create a unified “look and feel” for the marketing communication materials
- Allow the designers to focus on elements where he/she can add value and eliminates unnecessary changes made for the sake of being different
- Provide company employees with focus and direction
- Save marketers time and increases their productivity
- Provide a one stop source of information about the brand to the new employees
Who Will Benefit?
The document will benefit every person who is involved in managing, interacting and representing the brand:
- Company employees
- Outside service providers: graphic designers, web designers, social media experts, industrial designers, product managers
Who Is Involved in Creating The Guidelines?
The Marketing department in collaboration with the agency of record is usually responsible for putting together the document. However all departments should be involved in the process. Company employees should be trained to become brand ambassadors since their buy-in is needed to ensure consistency in communicating the brand message.
Since the document is distributed to a wide audience with diverse backgrounds, it should be written in an easy to understand language that avoids unnecessary jargon. Make sure you include many examples and make it “visual” rather than a long and boring collection of sentences.
The guidelines should be accessible by all the parties involved in the brand’s strategy and communication. Don’t forget to distribute them to every new employee and service provider. Many companies choose to make the guidelines publicly available, which show professionalism and dedication to building a strong brand image.
Part 2 of this post will provide a detailed look at the contents of a comprehensive brand guidelines document.