You’ve invested a great deal of time and money developing your brand, defining your core values and how to communicate them to your audience. You’ve hired a designer, got that fab logo, really nailed that brand essence – now what? Without a clear direction for implementing your brand’s visual assets, it’s gonna be challenging to maintain that all-important cohesive look over time. Cue our humble hero: the brand identity guidelines!
What are brand identity guidelines?
Brand identity guidelines are just that: a set of guidelines to ensure correct use of a brand’s visual identity. They play a crucial part in keeping your visual communication coherent over time, especially if your brand identity will be implemented by others – like, say… an employee, a virtual assistant, a design agency, or a print shop. So it’s kinda like a user guide for your brand; sometimes it’s a printed document, but often it’s a PDF or an online directory. Regardless of format, it’s a system outlining how the individual design elements should be put together in order to create a unique and recognisable brand
What’s included in these guidelines?
No two brands are the same, and so the content and extent of the brand identity guidelines will vary greatly depending on each brand’s requirements. Some only need the basics…
- the logo and any logo variations
- colour scheme, complete with colour codes (Pantone, HEX etc)
…while many require more detailed guidelines that really go into detail, outlining things like:
- logo placement and safe area – this is important to avoid “drowning” the logo with other elements
- where/when/how to use te various logo variations – in certain situations, the primary logo might not fit, so it’s important to have other options up your sleeve
- how to use any additional design elements, like illustrations, icons and other decorative elements that work alongside the logo to complete the brand identity
- detailed guidelines for which fonts and font sizes should be used in various settings
- image style – using photos and/or illustrations can completely change the look and feel of the brand identity, so it’s important to stick to one distinct look
- «tone of voice» – a brand identity does not consist solely of visual elements; how you communicate verbally and in writing is also an important part of the brand’s personality
Why do I need brand identity guidelines?
Your brand identity guidelines help you keep your brand consistent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur or a large organisation, in order to establish trust and credibility it’s crucial to maintain the same look across all touchpoints. Without these guidelines, you run the risk of completely changing the brand message in a flash – just because someone didn’t know how to use your logo correctly, or what fonts to use. That sucks!
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
To communicate your brand values effectively, you have to be consistent. If you change your logo’s colour to make it fit a certain setting, you’re instantly making it less recognisable – and if this is repeated over time you risk weakening your brand. Your brand identity guidelines aren’t there to be a pain in the arse and a barrier to creativity, but to ensure effective and correct use of your brand’s visual and verbal elements, so that your brand comes across as coherent and professional. Always. That’s how you build a strong brand over time!
RULES & GUIDELINES
A good set of brand identity guidelines include more than just a brief overview of logo variations and colours. It defines and sets a clear direction for how to use the brand’s individual elements together, and perhaps even more importantly: how not to use them. The guidelines will be useful for anyone communicating something on behalf of the brand, and removes the risk of a conflict between personal preferences and the pre-defined brand style.
A TOOLKIT, NOT A STRAIGHTJACKET!
Its not all strict rules and no-nos. A brand is a living creature, and it can (and should) develop as time passes, adapting to changing circumstances. The brand identity guidelines should allow for this change, within certain boundaries. Try to think of it as a toolkit to help you keep your brand consistent and recognisable over time.
Right now you might be the only person to use the brand’s visual identity, and having such detailed guidelines could feel a bit over the top. But have you considered what happens when you want to expand your team? What happens if your trusty designer is suddenly unavailable and you need to find a new one? Or if you hire a VA (virtual assistant) to deal with your social media accounts? Just like that, you have more people on board, people that probably don’t have any prior knowledge of your brand. This is the time for those brand identity guidelines to shine! How nice would it be to be able to just hand it over, removing any doubts or confusion about correct logo placement, what fonts or colours to use, or how to formulate written content? Very nice, actually!
I need one of those! Where do I get one?
Brand identity guidelines are most commonly designed as part of the logo and identity design process, or a rebranding process. Just starting to build your brand? Perfect timing! Do you already have an established brand, but lack that overall consistency? No worries, I can still help you! It’s never to late to implement brand identity guidelines.
When you order a brand identity design from Petchy, you will always receive a brand board as the very minimum. A brand board presents all of your brand’s visual assets on one page, for when you need that colour reference, or you’re struggling to remember what font to use. It gives you an instant overview of your brand’s look and feel, and will act as a guide to help you stay consistent and create a recognisable brand. For many startups and solopreneurs this will be enough to start off with, but you can always choose extended brand identity guidelines as an optional add-on. If your budget will stretch, I absolutely recommend investing in this tool from an early phase.
Want to know more? Book a free discovery call, and let’s chat about your options!