Branding your business is often one of the first steps you take when you start out.  You have a logo create, pick brand colours and create a general look and feel for your company – you create an identity for it.  But over time, these branding elements can be diluted and forgotten, leading to a lessening of the effect of the brand.  This is where brand guidelines come in.

Why branding matters

Before we look at brand guidelines, let’s take a quick reminder of why branding matters.  There are lots of reasons but here are a few that are relevant to most companies.

For starters, a clear brand helps to create a stronger bond with customers.  They recognise your products, websites, advertisements and other assets due to your brand.  It also allows employees to become advocates, having some clear to promote to people.

Branding helps you stand out from your competition and makes it clear not only what you do but what you are about.  Plus, there’s colour psychology which helps to make connections with the right customers through the use of the right colours in your branding.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines are simply a list of things that you use in your brand that help you to be consistent in all the materials you create.  From social media posts to online adverts or even flyers, these brand guidelines will help you be consistent and make it easier to choose what to use in any assets you create.  Some of the elements in the brand guidelines will include:

  • Brand colours and fonts
  • Logos and tagline logos
  • Image assets such as photos or illustrations
  • Video assets
  • Brand tone of voice and grammar
  • What shouldn’t be done with branding

You may have a mood board you use as inspiration for all of these and that you can refer back to when unsure about something.

Once you have compiled the information, you can then make a brand guidelines document.  This can be plain and simple or quite colourful, depending on your preference.  But it should be a PDF that can be easily printed and viewed as well as handed out to anyone working for or with the brand.

How to use brand guidelines

After you have put together your brand guidelines, the question is then how do you use it and who receives it?

For starters, if you are working with a marketing agency, you will want to supply them with the branding guidelines.  This makes it much easier for them to ensure everything they create for your brand is following these guidelines and ties up with other content created.

Also, if you are using a graphic or web designer to create things for your company, then the brand guidelines will let them know everything from what font to use in body text to the right logo for the homepage.  This is very important to achieve that consistency which really makes a brand stand out.

If you are bringing in new employees to create content or assets within the business, these guidelines are very important.  It teaches them how the brand should look or sound and is an easy reference tool as they get to know your company.