Brand guidelines are your most important communication tool, both internally to your business and externally to your audience. Having established brand guidelines communicates to the public that you are serious about your brand. It is a great resource for your business to understand how to represent its brand across departments.
What should your guidelines include?
- Logos and Sub-Brands
- Colour Palette
- Font Selection and Hierarchy
- Graphics Style & Approved Images
So, let’s explore some of those a bit more.
After you put your resources into creating a great logo you want to make sure it stays intact. At Payara with our logo being the Payara fish we want to make sure it stays that way, and no one uses it inappropriately. We put measures in our guidelines expressing how not to manipulate our logo. Even though most of the time you do not want people to manipulate your logo in any way it is important to specify so people understand what not to do.
Your colour palette says a lot about your brand and message, make sure you choose right. It reflects your brand’s personality as colours have their own meaning and stereotypical use. Scope out your competitors and the market. Do not try to use different colours just for the sake of standing out, it might not fit the message and market. Make sure the specify the exact values of your colours for all purposes you might need later.
What people could deem unimportant, is a subtle but vital part of your brand. Fonts make or break a brand. Each font type has its own personality and image, making sure you are using the right ones to communicate the right message is key.
Besides choosing your correct fonts, constructing them in a hierarchy is as important. And that means including specific weights and styles of a font family in your guidelines, giving each a purpose.
You cannot go wrong with giving people overly specific instructions, especially if it’s about your brand. You want them to understand that it is important to get it right.
Style & Images
To have a recognizable brand is everyone’s dream and it is easily achieved by keeping a consistent style. Consistency allows your brand to be easily recognized even without the use of an over-sized logo. It is the little things that make your brand cohesive. Your graphic/illustration style is one of those. It is up to you to choose what style represents your brand well, but once that is discovered, it’s best kept consistent! There is nothing wrong with trying out new things with a small one-off project, but for the most part, keep your style consistent. Is it lines, flat colours, gradients, or sketches? Purely depends on your brand’s personality.
Try to limit your use of stock image unless it is a big part of your brand, the one way to be recognizable is to use something that hasn’t been done before. As much as it is easier and cheaper to buy one-off graphics on the many ‘free’ graphics portal, they will never be tailored specifically to your brand and content. Even if you think they fit that one project or social media post so well, at the end of the day they will not have your brand’s touch and colours. Having your own in-house design team might be more expensive but it pays itself off by creating a consistent and robust brand image.
The key to a recognisable brand is consistency. And that can be achieved by following all the above-mentioned tips. Take your time building your guidelines, make sure they are pristine and include all that is going to make your brand shine. Now it is up to you to make sure you follow them all the time.