Do you want to make your life easier — and your business better?
Want to actually get where you’re going — and enjoy the trip?
Have and follow brand guidelines. It’s that simple.
Like sunscreen in the summer, brand guidelines should be used on all of your assets. This includes social media, print ads, annual reports, packaging, emails, your website — everything that represents your organization should be branded for you in alignment with your guidelines.
Your brand is your business out in the wild. Brand guidelines ensure that everything in your brand’s backpack will support the journey and you won’t get burned!
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines, sometimes known as a brand style guide, or a visual style guide, are the rules for your brand that shape a consistent image for your company. They govern the look-and-feel of a company’s branding and marketing collateral through its logo, font, color selection, mission, values, and more.
Why do you need comprehensive, tangible brand guidelines?
You probably have a logo.
Maybe you have a few colors.
Perhaps you even have an idea of what fonts you usually use.
But if you actually want to build trust — you need more than this.
You need comprehensive brand guidelines. And guess what? They’ll make everything about your business better.
Here are 8 ways brand guidelines will benefit YOU:
1. Brand guidelines save time, reduce stress & help you delegate with ease.
Need a piece of collateral created? Doing a partnership with another organization that wants to send an email about you? You can outsource and partner with ease. Simply attach your brand guidelines and anyone doing work on your behalf will have very specific rules to follow. That means when it comes to you for approval it will be on-point, and actually represent your brand in an ultra-consistent manner.
2. You’ll increase revenue.
3. You’ll actually find the waterfall.
There’s abundance beyond measure out there in brand-success-land. When you hike with a map, you get where you’re going. When you hike without a map — it’s anyone’s guess. Your guidelines are part of your brand’s map!
4. You’ll build genuine trust.
Want to build trust? Use brand guidelines. Want to eliminate trust? Try(ish) to make stuff look similar(ish). The truth is, even the slightest deviations from consistency can make your brand feel confusing, shady, and untrustworthy. What you put in consistency-wise, is what you’ll get out, trust-wise.
5. You won’t be bear food.
The competition is fierce out there. An inconsistent, wishy-washy brand is like some fire-grilled salmon sitting on an empty picnic table in the woods. Easy for the grizzlies to devour. Protect your company’s presence with the confidence and don’t-mess-with-us swagger that comes from brand guidelines.
6. You’ll attract new employees and save money.
7. You’ll have a foundation for growth — and build bigger because of it.
Your brand’s log cabin will be built on a strong foundation. When it comes to brand guidelines, you can always add onto them (think second story and jacuzzi) — but you’ll be happy you did the basics right from the beginning.
8. Guidelines will build recognition and brand awareness.
Before you know it, you’ll have a list of interested parties waiting to adventure with you. You’ll share your S’mores around the campfire, and tell tales of great branding, with an elevated, engaging, and consistent presence.
Don’t leave your brand out in the wild to fend for itself! Give it brand guidelines to use as a map.
What is usually included in brand guidelines?
The basics include the logo and how it is used (and not used), color palettes, and your company’s tone of voice, but can evolve to include many other standards.
— Tagline logos: Ex: Nike’s ‘Just do it’
— Logo space requirements
— Primary color palette: Exact color used including color names and codes
— Second color palette: Supporting colors to add variety
— Color variations
— Brand tone: What’s the tone of your voice?
— Grammar: Do you use the oxford comma or always use contractions (ex: I can’t vs. I cannot)?? We try to be specific for copywriters
— Abbreviations or acronyms
—Typography: Main fonts or typefaces associated with your brand
— Social Media: templates for both design, and imagery
Remember: Your brand is everything about you.
Just like my black-rimmed glasses and t-shirt are part of my brand, (add photo) everything that represents you is part of yours. Your brand can be the uniforms people wear, the things they say when they answer the phone. It’s the music you play in your office or store. It’s the snacks you serve in the meeting room.
There are three types of brand guidelines that Ruzow Graphics creates: they can be fully fleshed-out or mini guidelines.
One of my fleshed-out examples is our visual identity guidelines for the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at the University of Oxford. Here’s the table of contents to get a sense of everything we include in a full brand guideline book:
Check out how the logo usage, fonts, and color palette conforms to the same visual identity:
Another example of brand guidelines is a mini guidelines booklet for The Prediction Suite, that’s closer to four pages. We provide points to remember for anyone who does work for the brand, and examples of alternate logo usage, fonts used in the logo, the free Google font equivalent, and the color palette with primary and secondary colors:
And then there is a mini guidelines one-sheet. The example here is my brand guidelines. It covers logo and alternate logos, colors, and typography.
Here’s to safe summer adventures — and brands that excel in the wild! How can we help? Let’s talk.