Why your Business Needs Them and Tips on What to Include
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines are essentially a manual to govern the application of your company’s visual image throughout a range of environments. Typically these might include printed collateral, stationery, advertising, digital/social media, internal usage and presence in the public domain. Corporate guidelines provide detailed reference material, specification and examples to ensure your brand image is implemented correctly by staff and external suppliers.
What is the Purpose of a Brand Guidelines Document?
Whatever the scale of your company a consistent unified image is crucial to how you are perceived. A brand image that is constant projects stability and control. Recurrent themes present in well executed branding help to build familiarity, recognition and ultimately trust.
It is inevitable that a presence within advertising, corporate publications or event based material will leave your brand image in the hands of a third party. It is at this point that you do not wish to leave any ‘room for interpretation’. Providing your supplier with a guidelines document and associated artwork at this stage ensures your image is not diluted and the proportions, quality and colour palette remain as intended.
Do all Businesses Require Brand Guidelines?
Brand guides are essential for large corporations but they can also be of benefit to small or medium size operations. The main purpose of a guidelines document is to offer a go-to solution for artwork and a reference to the colour palette and visual themes of the brand. The guides look to pre-empt and provide solutions for common variants and adaptations that may arise during typical activity.
Even small companies aspire to achieve high levels of brand visibility yet the management of your brand can be time consuming and impact greatly on staff with defined roles. If your team has no designated marketing specialist and your organisation frequently advertises or is active at events/exhibitions a guidelines document may prove an invaluable asset.
recurrent themes present in well executed branding help to build familiarity, recognition and ultimately trust.
What is Included Within a Set of Brand Guidelines
Brand guides can vary enormously in scale, content and budget. They are often designed around requirements and activities specific to the target business. The list below details some essential items of reference to include.
Brand Identity (Logo)
Typically guidelines will deal primarily with the brand identity (Logo) of the company. This should include colour specification, accepted variants of the identity and examples in situ on a variety of backgrounds. The guides should demonstrate how the logo should be applied in relation to surrounding content and what area of space/exclusion should be allowed for. In larger organisations the correct application of sub or divisional logos should also be included.
Brand Colour Palette
The colour palette should be detailed featuring a range of values and conversions. At top level these will typically start with a Pantone (PMS) number, then feature conversions for CMYK, RGB and Hex. As well as Core brand colours divisional or extended palette colours should also be documented.
Brand Font Sets
Fonts associated with the brand should be detailed along with permitted weights and examples of application (body copy, headers, use of caps, line spacing etc). Substitute fonts and application examples should be included for instances where the designated brand font maybe not be available.
Brand Design Elements
Shapes, lines, motifs or essential components that help define the voice/theme of the brand should be documented in a range of sample applications and combinations.
Photography imagery that defines the look, subject and tone of the brand should be detailed. If after effects such as colour treatments or filters are a key component to brand imagery their application process should feature. Examples should be provided for how text content and imagery interact.
Artwork assets are supporting files that accompany the guidelines and assist implementation and delivery to suppliers. At base level they should include logo artwork in variety of formats. This may extend to a library of pre-treated imagery or stock material. Templates may also be included in a range of formats to ensure the brand layout is preserved throughout all internal documentation. The range of assets to accompany the document can be broad and varying. The requirements here are usually client specific or are dictated by the intended recipient.