A visual identity, or logo, is an important piece of your branding puzzle, but a logo on its own is not the brand. A brand is the promise we make to our stakeholders. That could mean our customers, our staff, or our community. It is what you stand for in the minds of the public and the emotions they feel when they hear your business name.
By creating and following a brand guidelines document you will ensure that you have a consistent look and feel, and tone of voice, across every touchpoint with your business. In this way, you can build meaning and feelings into a strong, recognizable brand.
This post will cover some of the key pieces needed to help you create strong brand guidelines for your business.
Brand Positioning Statement
If you are working on your brand and considering how you fit in the marketplace creating a positioning statement will be the foundation of your work. This will guide and inform how you use and live your brand in practice.
Your brand positioning statement needs to clearly and concisely state exactly what your company does, who your company works with, and what it is that makes you different. The more narrow and focused your positioning statement is, the easier it will be to use in practice. Understand your niche, your customers, and the value you add, and use this in practice while creating your brand guidelines.
Logo and Brand Identity
Together with your logo, the colours you use, the fonts you select, and the imagery you display all works together to become your brand identity. The more specific and distinct these elements are, the more likely it is to have an easily recognized and differentiated brand. These elements should all work together to create a cohesive look and feel for your brand.
Your brand guidelines should also include direction on how the logo should be used in practice. How much clear space is required surrounding your logo, proper use of logo colours, minimum sizes, etc. This all helps you ensure that you have a consistent look across all applications.
Fonts are also an important piece of your identity and your guidelines should include the fonts you chose to use including the colours, weights, sizes and applications.
Simply stated, a brand personality is how the brand would look and sound if you met it on the street. It’s what makes your business human in the eyes of your customers.
Your brand should reflect who you are and what you aspire to be. Are you friendly and approachable, wise and informative, or something altogether different.
Your brand personality will inform the voice you use in your brand copy and marketing messages. It’ll guide your tone of voice, help you know which words to use and the ones you won’t, and over time the consistency will help your customers and the community get to know you.
Key Brand Messages
Building from your brand personality, a good brand guidelines document will also include key messaging. This could include your mission and vision statements, taglines, and general messages that you want to communicate to your customers through your copy and visual elements.
For our nonprofit clients, we often include donor messaging and community messaging components in their brand guidelines. These become reference points for staff and board members to use when they are communicating with the public with distinct messaging that focuses on the audience they are communicating with.
Examples of Your Brand in Practice
Your brand guidelines could be used by a number of people both inside and outside of your business. Marketing teams, your sign company, advertisers, HR, etc could all be taking their turn using your brand to communicate. Including some examples of your brand in practice lets people read and see what their work should look like.
Put approved internal documents, brochures, marketing collateral, social media posts, and other examples of work that fit your brand guidelines. This will help take the interpretation of your brand and any guesswork away from the person creating your materials.
Investing in a brand guidelines document for your company takes time and money, but both will be well spent. Having a consistent and recognizable brand will help you engage with and attract potential customers adding value to your business.
If you need help with your branding or in creating brand guidelines, we’re here to help. If you have any questions or would like to get started, please contact us.