If you’re someone with a branding background, you understand the importance of brand standards and everything that needs to be done. Branding standards are a set of brand-centric guidelines that explain the look and feel of your business. Brand standards are much more important than a logo – they define the face of your business and brand.
Your brand standards help you set a recognizable presence in a competitive market and ensures it stays consistent.
All your employees and stakeholders should understand their importance.
It is important that everyone associated with your brand understands your guidelines. The list includes your employees, stakeholders, and the target audience.
Getting your brand standards is important because that’s how your customers recognize you. Let’s discuss the reasons these are important:
You want people to remember you, and your brand should be the first one they think of when they see your logo – or even similar colors.
To do that, to embed in your audience’s minds, you need to be consistent with your branding efforts. So your marketing material, business cards, shopping bags, and website should have brand elements.
Your team will use the brand standards guidelines to understand what to use and how to use to ensure your customers recognize you. The key is to remain consistent and make a life-long impression.
When you write up a brand guide, you’re basically setting up ground rules for your brand’s look and feel. The rules identify all the visuals that represent your brand – like the logo, colors, typography, fonts, etc.
The guide proves helpful for a new employee who isn’t familiar with your brand elements. In addition, the guidelines help your employees keep everything cohesive.
Keeping consistent to become recognizable is time-consuming but worth it. Your brand won’t be recognizable if you don’t consistently work on it. However, your distinguished brand standards can make it recognizable, especially if your employees follow them.
When businesses introduce a new product or service, they can steer a little away from branding standards. A brand standards guide will help you stay focused. By implementing those rules, you maintain consistency and reach the intended audience.
If you’re consistent with your brand standards, you build a strong foundation for your brand’s reputation. When your brand has a reputation, you create value in the market and maintain integrity for your brand.
You can include anything and everything related to your brand in your guidelines; however, there are eight essentials that you shouldn’t skip.
Let’s look at the eight essentials to add to every brand standards guideline.
Start with a positioning statement; it defines your target audience and sets a tone. You can use a template for it or create your own. The statement helps you understand how your customers should recognize your brand.
The brand message part includes three major elements, brand slogan, taglines, and phrases. They influence how you communicate with the audience online via copywriting and visuals. Decide the message you’re comfortable with your audience understanding and encourage your employees to produce similar messages.
The brand statement is the part where you describe your brand in a single paragraph. The easiest way to create is to think about what would you say if someone asked, “what is your brand about?” The answer should be short and sweet.
The logo section should have different iterations of your logo – colored, black and white, big size, medium size, large size, etc. Again, if you explain your logo well, your employees will know what logo size and type go where.
Much like the logo section, you need to be thorough in the font section as well. Write down the different fonts you prefer, the fonts that represent your brand, which fonts are better for which marketing material, etc. For example, some brands prefer different fonts for videos and images. Make a list of fonts you like and explain how you’ll like to see them.
The color palette section should start with 2-4 primary colors you want to use across the entire marketing collateral. Then highlight the secondary colors that complement your primary colors; employees should apply them as needed. Finally, make sure to describe where each color should be used and how it should be used.
The brand elements include everything from a single dot line to the clip art, images, and videos you use. Try to use the best examples of your brand that explain how and where each element is used. Also, add instructions that explain each example.
Your brand standards guidelines should include examples in each section for employees. The examples will help your employees understand how to use brand elements across all marketing collateral. Make sure your guidelines are clear and easy to understand.
If your employees follow the brand guidelines accordingly, it will pay off in the long run. The practice will build trust in your audience and create a long-lasting brand value.
Let’s look at seven examples of companies that have amazing brand guidelines.
Asana is a SaaS product that allows organizations to be on the same page, project-wise. The Asana employees have followed the brand guideline by the book, which is why people think of Asana when they see three dots. The SaaS product is the answer to all the customer’s whys – the employees know how to work.
Who doesn’t know the famous space station NASA? The company has a clear guidelines manual for its employees. The guideline is lengthy, but it thoroughly explains to the employees how to go about everything. Moreover, it pays attention to every detail, which helps new and old employees to understand the brand better.
Uber undeniably has a strong online presence because they focus on nine core elements: Logo, colors, brand voice, typography, illustration, motion, composition, photography, and iconography. In addition, the brand guidelines give a complete overview of what it stands for and how employees should utilize the rules for marketing collaterals.
Netflix has an iconic “N” logo that has made a dent in the viewer’s mind. Without a doubt, if people see the logo anywhere before a show or movie, they’ll know it is a Netflix production. The team might not follow the guidelines by the book, but they’ve used something as basic as a logo to make a life-long impression.
The name Audi is promoted anywhere and everywhere, which is why the brand has very specific guidelines. They have different appearances for multiple user interfaces for communication, branding, motion pictures, etc. You’ll see a specific Audi product for different platforms, and it is all in the guidelines. They even have rules on how to use their logo on branding material.
Carrefour is a giant in the food retail industry, so its branding guidelines emphasize warmth, openness, and comfort. Their guidelines have helped them become recognized as a welcoming, family brand that emits a sense of familiarity and care. You can find some great inspiration from their guide to understand how your brand can feel like home to your audience.
Shazam is a worldwide popular, Apple-owned app, and any user will know the app when they see the logo. The app has straightforward brand guidelines, and it fixates on using the logo for brand identification. In addition, the guidelines explain how to use the logo as a watermark for different reasons. The guide also has a slight touch of humor to keep things friendly.
If you’re still feeling a little lost, don’t worry; here are some tips you can incorporate when you start creating your brand standards guidelines.
The right kind of helpful guidelines emphasizes the do’s and don’ts equally. They paint a picture of what to do and what not to do in detail.
The picture helps employees understand your requirements easily. Be specific about the do’s and don’ts of every section. For example, where to place the logo and where to not place it. The colors you should and shouldn’t use, etc.
The more details you add, the better it is for your brand. Once you’ve specified the do’s and don’ts, make sure to explain different scenarios using graphic material. For example, you could show how to and not to use the logo. The tip can work for all the brand elements, fonts, typography, iconography, etc.
For fonts, you can be specific about which fonts go where to ensure that’s how they’re used.
The reason you create brand guidelines is to ensure your brand is conveyed properly – the guide itself needs that too!
You can do this by adding minute brand details like colors, logos, and fonts while explaining the guidelines. For example,
The trick is to create a visual flow and enforce a memorable brand identity.
Another trick to solidify your brand is by picking a primary color.
For example, Facebook’s primary color is “Facebook Blue,” Spotify uses “Spotify green” as its primary color, and Netflix calls “Netflix Red” its primary color. Getting the picture?
When you pick a primary color, you create importance for your brand and claim it as your own.
Brand guidelines are a great tool to outline all the rules to make sure every employee follows them. In addition, your guidelines will come in handy when you’re collaborating with another brand or influencers for promotion and marketing.
The key is to stay consistent with your branding efforts using the guidelines critically. Every little detail counts, whether it is on a social media post or in an email – it should be consistent with your brand guidelines.
Good luck with your brand guidelines; I’m sure they’ll be amazing!