A brand guideline is something that should be handed to any employee or contract worker. It should also be shared with any outside agency or consultant who is tasked with communicating for the brand to it’s audience. Some company’s brand guidelines are extensive, and some are very brief. Regardless of which category you fall into, your brand guidelines need to include the following items in order to be a useful roadmap for anyone attempting to use it to advance a brand.
The first section of your brand guideline has nothing to do at all with what your brand looks like. It’s about the overall vision of your business. But that means more than simply a vision statement. Expanding on the vision section of your brand guideline means including:
Take the time to identify the three items above, and spell all that out in your brand guideline.
It’s important to be consistent in the way you communicate, both internally and externally. This includes, but is not limited to:
So how do you define that voice? Below is one of my favorite tools. Using the chart, place a dot on each line closest to the word that describes your business’ personality best. While in some cases you may find that you fall somewhere in the middle, take care to not fall in the middle on all the lines. That only means you do not have a clear voice, and you are trying to be all things to all people. Where did your dots fall? Is your voice personable or corporate? Fun or serious? Accessible or luxurious?
Clearly defining your voice will help create a company culture of writing, speaking, and marketing in a consistent branded tone.
The most obvious ingredient to a useful brand guideline is the visuals. Make sure it’s clear how your brand should look and be presented visually at all times. There should be both do’s and don’ts included in some sections. The best brand guideline will leave none of the visuals up for question. Visual guidelines can include some or all of the following:
If you haven’t identified your brand guidelines yet, now is as good a time as any to sit down and do the work. Plan a company or executive retreat to discuss and determine your mission, vision and values if you haven’t already done so. If possible, work with a branding firm (like Katy Dwyer Design) to help identify and build your visual and voice guidelines. But most importantly, once you have that guideline established, be ready to commit to it!