Brand guidelines, brand standards, style guide, brand book. All different names for the same important document that contains a company’s voice, vision, typography, color palette, imagery, and so the list goes on. One could argue that it’s a business’ bible as it contains all the important information that encapsulates a brand. Style guides can range in length, technique, and level of detail, however, the more comprehensive the guide, the more chances you have of avoiding incorrect interpretation from employees and outside partners.
Whether your company wants an extensive brand book or a quick and dirty style sheet, these are some essential elements that all guides should include:
1. Brand Vision
A brand vision is an honest look at what an organization wants to accomplish in the future and gives the business motivation. It should be aspirational to both employees and customers.
2. Tone of Voice
This is the way a company comes across in both written and spoken word. It should express the brand’s values and personality. Tone of voice is essential in the social media space as it can elevate an organization’s online presence and keep users coming back for more.
3. Mission Statement
A company’s mission describes the organization’s objectives, how they reach those objectives and also its purpose and why it exists.
The font and typefaces chosen to represent a company in their collateral, presentations and on the web. Many businesses choose multiple fonts to represent them in different ways, i.e. a font specific for their website and a different, complimentary font for their printed pieces. A system font, is also common for presentations and word documents, as system fonts are preloaded onto everyone’s machines allowing documents to appear the same for all.
5. Color Palette
The primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary colors that are used throughout a brand that set the mood, personality and appearance of the company.
Imagery is important for a brand as it helps transform its appearance. Whether the company utilizes fun illustration, black and white photography, colored photography, etc., the imagery and any design elements are an important facet to any brand. Including a layout of how the imagery and design elements are combined within a composition is always a helpful addition to any guide, as it shows users what a final piece should look like.
7. Logo usage
Displaying the different logo variations (color, black & white, all white, one color?) are important for employees and outside partners to make sure the logo is being used correctly and in the proper format.
By including these elements, your guidelines will have the key brand components listed for everyone to view. The next step is giving your employees access to the document, so they can understand the rules of the brand. This sets workers up for success by providing them the tools needed to create integrated, cohesive visual campaigns. Not only should the guidelines be available for use, but having a fun and engaging, easy-to-use document will encourage employees to use the guide whenever and wherever needed. The uniqueness of the guide will also help break through the monotony of other collateral employees view each day. It will inspire employees to abide by standards and get them excited about the company and the brand they work for. As a designer, I love looking through brand standards, the more interesting the layout, the more likely I am to remember the important elements of a brand!
In the end, brand guidelines may seem like an afterthought to some organizations, but speaking from experience, when everyone is on the same page regarding a brand, it’s extremely beneficial. The result is a consistent and integrated feel throughout all collateral pieces, campaigns, and website components. Is your company interested in a brand refresh? Get in touch!
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