Successful companies will create a unique brand they can use to attract and maintain customers. Everything associated with that brand falls under the “branding guidelines.” This even includes instructions regarding how a company will promote itself and what they will visually use to accomplish this. However, many people have no idea how to build brands and how to maintain them. Getting started with branding doesn’t have to be complicated though! Paying attention to corporate identity and corporate features can help you create strong branding guidelines that will help ensure the long-lasting success of your business.
Branding is an essential facet of building any business. Branding can allow you to connect with customers and build brand recognition. A “brand” isn’t simply a catchy name and a well-designed logo, it is how customers perceive you, your work and your products. A brand includes how people interact with your business, the ideals you promote, and the impressions you give off. It is hard to build a brand without maintaining a consistent “personality”—built off of names, logos, products, employees and reputations.
How to Create Branding Guidelines
Creating and perfecting your branding guidelines are key to ensuring the physical features of your corporation match the brand you are attempting to deliver in your message. Branding guidelines rule all of the tangible features of a company that make up a company identity. For example, say a brand is trying to communicate its identity of being “fun” and “kid-friendly.” Their branding guidelines may dictate that they must use a colorful logo or playful font on all their images. Perhaps they may also use colorful vehicles to deliver products or develop a website that includes games. To develop branding guidelines, first, develop a corporate identity. Then, develop visual guidelines based on this corporate identity. After you develop your corporate identity and create visual guidelines, you are ready to create branding guidelines.
Develop Your Corporate Branding Guidelines
All companies have a “reputation.” Some companies are seen as people-oriented, some are seen as exciting and fun, and some are seen as very professional. A corporate identity should be the first thing to consider when developing branding guidelines. Ensure your identity is both unique and easy to understand to a vast array of audiences. The most successful businesses build an identity that fits a niche and develops a unique identity. Some businesses try to copy other’s identities and do not succeed. Again, your identity should be unique to your business and its goals.
Creating your specific corporate identity and ensuring it is promoted across your company is key in developing branding guidelines. A corporate identity designs and communicates an organization’s structure, vision, and strategy. It creates and communicates four main ideas: who a company is, what they do, how they do it, and what their vision is for the future.
Develop Your Visual Guidelines
After creating and perfecting your corporate identity, it is time to ensure the visual features of your corporation match the brand you are attempting to deliver in your message. Corporate features are all of the tangible features of a company that make up an identity. For example, when a brand tries to communicate its identity of being “fun” and “kid-friendly,” they might use a colorful logo or playful font on all their images. They may design delivery packages using bright packaging and stickers, or they could include games on their website. All of these visual aspects would appeal to a child, but not to an adult looking for a professional company.
So, make sure all of the visual aspects of your company are targeted towards your desired audience. Additionally, you should communicate your key company values and ideas. These visual corporate features should align with your corporate identity. With that being said, you should develop identity first, in order to build off of it. It is very important you have visual branding guidelines to ensure your brand remains constant across all mediums.
Why Should You Develop Visual Branding Guidelines?
Visual guidelines are the physical signifiers your company puts out into the market. The design of any product, service or item you own or promote is critical to your brand’s success. Over the past 10 years, design-focused companies have had a significant stock market advantage. To develop branding guidelines, you must first create visual guidelines that guide all content creation. These visual guidelines can include any colors you use, the logo of your company, fonts and typography, photography, iconography, illustrations, website designs, videos/films, interactive elements, data visualization and countless other aspects of your marketing materials. So, ensure all of the design elements in these features align with your company’s identity and message. Companies that use visual elements that clash with the purpose and identity of the organization can experience lower consumer interaction, as the audience may be confused by the brand.
Create Branding Guidelines
Once you create both company identity and visual guidelines, it is time to write branding guidelines. Branding guidelines are frameworks for designers and content creators to follow, to make sure your company identity and visual elements are followed exactly. Even if the designer you hire has no background with your company, by reading your branding guidelines, they should be able to create something that fits perfectly with your brand.
What Do They Cover?
Branding guidelines cover everything in your company. They describe company positioning, such as editorial style and tone of voice in emails, social copy, product descriptions or memos the company sends out. Many guidelines also focus on logos and symbols. Also, they should include everything from the font, spacing, color palettes, and sizing of the logo in your guidelines. Include information for image placement and product placement on your website as well. Even include items such as stationary, voicemails, packaging, and vehicle graphics in your branding guidelines.
However, branding guidelines go far beyond physical items. You should also include branding guidelines for advertisement scripts, sponsorships, and partnerships with other companies. Remember, everything your company interacts with is part of your brand. So, your guidelines should reflect that! For a full checklist of what to include in brand guidelines, visit the branding guidelines checklist.
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What Do They Look Like?
Keep your guidelines simple—comprehensive but not complex or confusing. They should be easy to follow and read so a designer doesn’t have to trawl through pages upon pages in order to find the answer to their question. Use do’s and don’ts, how to’s and examples of your work. All of the elements you could possibly include should have explanations, but don’t overload your reader with words. The best brand guidelines show, they don’t just tell.
Use examples of font options, spacing, and image placement to get your point across. Always keep your branding guidelines updated with the newest information relating to your brand. If there is a change in leadership, values or goals, your brand guidelines should reflect that. Also, you should engage in conversations with your team about what is and what is not working in your branding and create new brand guidelines based upon those changes.
More on Creating Branding Guidelines
Creating branding guidelines may seem like an overwhelming task! Detailing every visual and interactive aspect of your company may indeed be daunting. However, by breaking down the steps to guideline creation, you may find it is much simpler than you originally believed. Creating a company identity and developing visual guidelines based on your values, products, and audiences can allow you to easily create brand guidelines that fit and follow those company aspects.