Brand guidelines are simply a set of rules and regulations which tell designers, copywriters and other people interacting with the brand how to use it effectively. In addition, they provide an overview of a brand’s story and personality. We would certainly recommend putting a set of brand guidelines together when you launch a new brand. But where to begin? These are our top tips for brand guidelines to get you started.
Top Tips For Brand Guidelines
1. Be Clear
It may be a cliche, but when it comes to brand guidelines, pictures really do tell 1000 words. Wherever possible try and provide a couple of illustrated examples of the point that you’re trying to explain. This might seem obvious when you’re clarifying logo usage but imagery can be just as useful when showing how the brand is used on different platforms.
Wherever possible, explain why you have chosen to set a certain guideline. Such explanations give creatives greater context and background to the brand and subsequently a fuller understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. For example, in your guidance on tone of voice or messaging, you might provide a little bit of information on who the audience is and why you’ve chosen to talk to them a certain way.
The clearer you can be and the more information you can provide, the less difficulty new people will have in getting to grips with your brand.
2. Be Specific
In order to ensure that your brand is applied consistently by everyone who works with it, you need to be very precise in your instructions. There will be several key areas in which you don’t want to leave room for interpretation, so try and consider as many possibilities as you can.
Take the logo as an example. A brand’s logo is reproduced in a wide variety of places, both digitally and in print. It appears on everything from products to business letterheads, social media profile photos to large wall graphics. In order to keep the logo consistent in each scenario, you need to give designers a thorough set of rules to follow. Typically, the logo section of a brand guidelines will state the following:
The absolute minimum size that the logo can be scaled to
Portrait and landscape options and when they should be used
The required spacing that should surround the logo
If there are multiple colour variations available, which to use depending on the background colour or logo location
Changes that should never be made to the logo e.g. removing any text, stretching it out or changing the colour.
When it comes to fonts, consider highlighting the following:
The font family to be used
Which fonts to use for titles, sub-headings and paragraph copy
When effects such as bold or italics should be used
What colour font to use against different backgrounds
The alignment of the text in different scenarios
Brand guidelines should also provide a breakdown of colour references for both print and digital applications, including CMYK, RGB and Spot.
3. Be Flexible
Whilst you do need to be specific to ensure that your brand is correctly applied and looks cohesive no matter who is working on it, creatives will require a certain degree of freedom if you want them to produce exciting and captivating new campaigns or brand assets. Whilst it’s important to be consistent, you don’t want to run the risk of your brand becoming stale or boring. Give designers or copywriters too many rigid rules and they won’t be able to experiment with new ideas or concepts.
At the end of the day, brand guidelines exist to ensure that your brand remains recognisable to existing and potential customers, partners and suppliers. They aren’t there to prevent the brand from every changing or evolving.