How Brand Guidelines Help Ensure A Strong Brand Identity

A Strong Brand is a Well-Managed Brand

Your brand is more than just your products or services. It’s one of your organization’s most valuable assets. It is the culmination of your company’s visual presence, message, promise, personality, and reputation. It is essential that all employees recognize the value of the brand and understand how to properly use it.

A study by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton and Wolff Olins found that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability

Well-defined brand guidelines allow you to clearly and consistently present your brand while establishing trust with your audience. It also ensures everyone who works with your brand is in alignment. A thorough brand guide will define clear rules for both the content (voice, tone, style) and the visual elements (logo, typography, colors) that build your marketing materials.

Anatomy of a Brand Guide

Your brand guide may address the following components:

  • Brand Messaging
    • Brand statements and themes
    • Brand personality, tone, and voice
    • Brand value
    • Target audience
  • Logo Usage
    • Acceptable vs. unacceptable use
    • Proportions, alignment, and clear space
    • Secondary logos
    • Sub-branding
  • Color Palette
    • Defined colors for digital and print (PMS, cmyk, rgb, hex values)
  • Typography
    • Font families
    • Style and sizing for headings, sub-heads, body copy
  • Approved Imagery
    • Photography style
    • Iconography style
  • Marketing Templates
    • Stationery
    • Sell sheets, brochures, white papers
    • Social media
    • Email templates and signatures

BUILDING TRUST & IDENTITY 

The Value of Consistency. Developing a strong identity is a much easier task when you have a set of guidelines to help you maintain brand consistency. A consistent brand that communicates your purpose, personality, and promise clarifies who you are and is more likely to appeal to your target market. For example, a law firm or industrial manufacturer will likely have more stringent rules regarding tone of voice (particularly on social media) than a local restaurant or boutique. In turn, each company’s target audience will be more engaged when the tone speaks to them and creates a sense of belonging.

Established brand guidelines also help ensure that new elements will work with your existing brand. Whether you’re introducing a new product, hosting an event, or launching a social media campaign, new themes and campaigns should incorporate established brand elements to aid in recognition and acceptance.

An Image of Professionalism. A consistent tone of voice, especially one that is sincere, informed, and friendly, will help your brand maintain an image of professionalism and expertise. However, tone of voice is only one element. Consistent use of color, typography, imagery, and logos throughout your print and digital marketing materials is critical. Take the time to ensure your message and visuals are working together to strengthen your brand. One of the most important reasons for a business to establish brand guidelines is to ensure an impression of trust and competence.

Brand Recognition. Think of your favorite brand. What words would you use to describe it? How does that brand visually represent itself? Brands that are instantly recognizable execute their marketing campaigns (print, digital and social) with strict adherence to well-established guidelines. When you see the “golden arches” in red and gold, you know you’re looking at McDonald’s logo. The black and orange in the Harley-Davidson bar and shield logo is another example of how color and symbol paired together immediately delivers brand recognition. Both companies fiercely protect all elements of their brand (logos, colors, messaging), which helps the marketplace identify the “genuine” brand from imitators and  improve overall brand recognition..

Your Brand Guide is a “Living Document.” Your brand message and visuals should be consistent, but not necessarily static. As your business grows and evolves with new technology, new products, or new audiences, it is important to keep your brand guide up-to-date and communicate the changes.

GET ON THE SAME PAGE

Everyone in your company should understand the importance of consistent branding and utilize the brand correctly – the right shade of blue, the right tagline, the right font, and the right sized logo for the project – because branding is all about details. If you have a new intern, or your Marketing Manager is out of the office, having established guidelines can help you ensure consistency. Ultimately, a brand guide can help reduce confusion and inconsistency, saving time and money.

NEED ASSISTANCE

Does your brand need to fine-tune its standards? Sikich Marketing & Design helps product and service brands define their visual identity. Check out samples of our work.

1 https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/media/uploads/Managing_Brands_for_Value_Creation.pdf

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Nicole Van Peursem

Nicole’s unique perspective on marketing comes from the inside out. With prior internal marketing experience in a variety of industries, she works with clients to develop their stories and implement marketing strategies.

Colleen Hughes

Colleen plays an essential role in the strategy, conception and design of creative ideas, turning them into effective marketing tools that deliver results. Her expertise is in developing strategic brand strategies.

By |2019-04-11T13:46:58+00:00April 11th, 2019|Marketing|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sikich LLP
Sikich is a leading professional services firm specializing in accounting, technology and advisory services. For over 30 years, Sikich has been helping clients focus on overall business growth and the components that result in building the bottom line. Sikich has more than 750 associates and has been ranked as one of the country’s 30 largest accounting firms and among the top one percent of all enterprise resource planning solution partners in the world.
This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice.

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