So, you bring your business to life and create a logo, business cards, a website, and some other marketing essentials. Hopefully, all these were created by a professional, and aren’t the result of your incomparable skills with Microsoft Paint and Publisher. After this, life and business continue, and all the elements that make up that identity (logo, fonts, colors, shapes, imagery, etc.) will be used again. Your brand needs representation on social media channels, videos, advertisements, app artwork, blog imagery, and an entire host of other places. You want your brand to be faithfully represented on all of the above… and brand guidelines exist for that very purpose.
It’s Like Handing Your Baby To A Stranger…
…when you hire a new designer or print shop to create a design for you. When hiring a babysitter, parents leave personal and emergency contact info, important medical details, feeding instructions, an activity schedule, etc. Your brand is no different. For your brand to stay cohesive across all its incarnations, the designer or print shop needs clear instructions on how to use your logo properly, what fonts to use, the correct values of your brand’s colors, what imagery to use, and more. Your brand guidelines give detailed instructions about all these:
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We all have friends who post photos of us on social media without asking for permission, right? Sometimes we don’t look our best in these and wish they would have just asked before posting our face online. Your logo is the face of your brand. It’s what people will associate your brand with and remember it by. Your brand guidelines should provide clear instructions on how much space your logo needs around it for recognition and clarity, what minimum size your logo should appear in, if variations of your logo exist for certain applications, what backgrounds it can appear over, what effects, if any, can be applied to it, and more.
Typefaces associated with a brand bring a certain look and mood to a logo and its accompanying graphics. For example, the letter “a” looks very different when set in Helvetica, as opposed to Futura. Your brand guidelines should offer exact typefaces and fonts to use when creating anything for your brand. And in today’s digital world, where only select fonts display online or on certain computer systems, you want to be sure that the correct ones are used to maintain your typography’s consistency. And for the love of Pete, don’t use Comic Sans or Papyrus for your brand’s font selection… just trust me on this one, ok?
Did you decide to make your company’s brochure in-house, on your inkjet printer, and are now sitting there scratching your head as to why your bright, happy blue printed out as a depressing shade of bluish grey? Well first, have a professional print your brochure properly, and second make sure to hand the printer your brand guidelines, which should tell them exactly what colors to use for your brand’s designs. Brand guidelines list out specific color codes to use for print, web, and other detailed applications.
Not all stock photos are created equal. Visit Shutterstock or iStock Photo and type in a word that describes your business and you’ll see the variety of color tones, dress attire, background settings, and photo layouts that pop up. Your brand guidelines should help a designer navigate that ever-growing sea of imagery to find the right look and feel to use with your brand.
See Also: Rebranding: Make You or Break You
There’s even more to brand guidelines than the list above. Brand guidelines can include instructions on communicating your brand voice, the use and mention of your company name, and other details. Take a look at Dropbox’s brand guidelines online to see how detailed these can get. And if you haven’t yet had your brand’s guidelines created, consider having it done sooner, rather than later. You are your brand’s guardian. Ensure that your brand identity is consistent and faithful in all its uses and you’ll strengthen brand recognition and loyalty.