Keepin' It Cohesive: By Using Brand Guidelines

The true definition of what it means to be a “brand” is often greyed. From an outsider’s perspective, a brand is simply a person’s feeling towards a product, company or service. On the front lines of a brand or within a company, a brand is how all the messages, graphics, and personalities all fit together and work as a whole. Sadly, this cohesion amongst all the moving parts of a brand is one of the most overlooked aspects of a company.

Why is that?

Well it is often because those involved are too close that a streamlined understanding is lost. As business owners and employees, it is natural to constantly test new ideas and styles, but what all of this really creates is a brand clutter. Essentially it is the invisible yet visible villain that can hurt and destroy companies every year. So how do we break the fever, clean out the closet and create cohesion? Every company can solve this problem by building and trusting in a brand guideline. This article will expound on some of the elements that should be included in a brand guideline and why it will help improve your business.

Building a Brand Guideline

A brand guideline is a small to mid-sized document that is shared amongst all employees that covers anything and everything that forms the brand’s appearance, tone, and marketing strategy. This document allows all the “lost in translation” problems to disappear and allows employees to feel confident in their work and what they create for the brand.  The end goal is to create consistency and confidence in your brand not only as an owner or manager, but also as employees.

To begin this process, ask yourself these simple questions:

·      Who will use the guidelines?

·      Who will build them, which department?

·      Where and how will it be accessed?

·      When should it be updated, or how often?

·      Why is this being produced?

·      What do you want to fix or gain from this document?

After answering these questions, you can begin to build the brand guideline.  Below is a list of elements that should be included.

·      Overview of brand/company history and vision

·      The company’s purpose of general idea of services provided

·      Any and all currently used taglines, jingles, mottos, etc.

·      A clear and concise mission statement

·      Logo and all forms, colors, sizes used for it

·      Buyer personas (Don’t know what this is? Read more here)

·      Color palette (Read more)

·      Type palette

·      Imaging style

·      Layout options and criteria

·      Social media tone with a list of do’s and don’ts

·      Copywriting style and tone

·      Business card and letterhead (Read more here)

·      All existing and unique marketing collateral

Here is an example of a basic brand guideline: Full Circle Branding Guidelines 

The benefits of building a brand guideline are numerous. All in all it creates cohesion and confidence amongst all the moving parts of a company and audience.  A brand is not simply a logo and a tag phrase, but how you want to appeal to your customers. No one wants to purchase from a brand that is unsure of its self and/or is inconsistent or unprofessional with his or her tone and images.  To beat out your competition, it often begins with square one: your brand. So pull together all your brand elements, streamline them and define yourself, confidently, as a company all to ensure a successful future.

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  • Martha E Hermerding says:

    Very cool basics to creating a cohesive brand image. Branding is one of my favorite subjects, and I would love to read a more in-depth look at how to build a strong and relatable brand.

    • Theresa Goodwin says:

      Hi Martha, thanks for commenting! If you are interested in learning more about building a solid brand, I recommend you check out ZAG by Marty Neumeier. It’s a fantastic read and quick. Thanks for reading our blog!