Take a moment to think about all the largest corporations almost everyone is familiar with nowadays. Brands like Apple, Google, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Verizon, Netflix, Chase, American Express, Starbucks, Nike, and Rolex are all in different industries, but all have one thing in common. They’re all highly consistent and recognizable through their logos, colors, fonts, images, and general messaging. This makes them instantly identifiable and builds trust with their audience. You create an internal expectation of how you expect their brand to act, respond, and conduct themselves in every scenario. That internal expectation builds loyalty and makes doing business with them much more comfortable than with an unfamiliar brand.
Having a solidified brand guideline is critical in building your business into a reputable household name. Regardless of whether your business is small, medium, or large, there’s only one way to correctly build a brand, and it’s through consistency. If you’re going to do something and have the option of doing it right or wrong, why wouldn’t you always do it right? Your customers will thank you for it, and although you may not immediately see the benefit in the short term, the long-term effects will continue to compound and secure your future growth.
Brand guidelines are the most useful resource for everyone to understand how to present your brand. The owner and leadership team are typically very familiar with the brand and how it should be represented. The chance of a new employee, an affiliate, or contractor having the same knowledge, however, is doubtful. Wouldn’t it be great to have a clearly defined set of rules that you could hand out to someone when they started working with you? Your brand guideline would tell them everything they need to know about being a great ambassador of your brand. This would ensure your customers receive the same service they’ve become accustomed to even with new employees. These brand guidelines will unify your organization and serve as a valuable resource that you’ll consistently find yourself using.
Brand guidelines will contain information on:
Your brand’s identity, including things like its vision, mission, core values, tone, personality, targeted audience, and quick elevator pitch.
The appropriate use and rules when using your brand’s assets, such as your logo, typeface, color palette, backgrounds, and spacing.
Consistency is essential when building a recognizable and reliable brand. It communicates to your audience that you take pride in the details and have gone to great lengths to ensure your customers are satisfied. It gives them a feeling to trust in knowing what to expect during each interaction with your company.
Your customers are always building a perception of your business. Whether they are landing on your website, viewing your business card, seeing your marketing material, or having a conversation with an employee, there’s an impression being made. This impression could be the difference between winning or losing a customer that could potentially change the future of your business. By having clearly defined rules, it becomes effortless to ensure you are consistently upholding your brand’s vision, values, and tone at all times.
Being consistent with your brand allows it to become an authority and more instantly recognizable within your industry and your target audience. Although it may seem like building a recognizable brand may take a lot of time, you will be building your business anyway. Why not make it distinguishable by adhering to its brand guidelines? This will pay dividends in the future, as you will require less marketing efforts to attract new customers. Your customers and industry experts alike will do your marketing for you. People feel comfortable recommending a brand that others are aware of. You’ll rarely find someone sticking their neck out and making a referral for an inconsistent brand.
The quickest way to increase your brand’s perceived value is through cohesive brand identity. It portrays your business as more professional, reliable, and trustworthy. You need to establish yourself as an authority that refuses to be taken out context, or displayed in a way that isn’t consistent with your brand guidelines. This will build trust with your audience and increase the integrity and quality of your brand’s image. There’s a reason bigger corporations typically demand a higher price point for their services than their smaller competition. They have the reputation and image that they demand respect and, thus, a higher price point. They ooze quality through consistency with their customers, regardless of whether they actually have the best product or not. Customers will always pay more for increased security than gambling and hoping for the best on an unknown,
Your brand needs to have recognizable colors that are used throughout all of your media. We recommend sticking to just a few colors as having too many options will dilute the possible instant recognition of your brand. Your brand guidelines should include CMYK and RGB color codes to ensure your color palette stays consistent between both print and web formats alike.
Whether you are designing your website, printing out marketing material, or sharing a post on social media, you should always be using consistent typography from your brand guidelines. This will be inclusive of which fonts are acceptable to use, what font sizes, and the hierarchy for choosing the appropriate typeface for your selected outlet.
Your logo is the face of your brand and an important part of your brand guidelines. You need to have strict rules on how your logo is displayed as to not tarnish your image or confuse your customers with what you represent. These rules could include where your logo can and cannot be used, any size restrictions you may have as to not distort the clarity of your logo, which colors are acceptable, or which backgrounds can be utilized with your logo. We often recommend including examples of how your logo should NOT be displayed as it provides your audience with a visual of what they shouldn’t be doing. Be sure to include some examples of your logo with incorrect colors, your logo stretched in odd ways, or examples of types of material your logo cannot be associated with.
What tone and verbiage do you want to be communicated to your customers at all times? Your brand tone clearly outlines the appropriate messaging to use when interacting with its audience. It will ensure your brand message is consistent at all times and give your customers a familiar experience each time.
How do you expect your employees or affiliates to act when representing your brand? Should they act more formal, casual, or professional? Sending mixed messages to your customers is the quickest way to build distrust in your brand. Have an outline describing how your employees and representatives need to conduct themselves while on the clock.
Your brand’s core values are the unwavering commitment you provide to your customers, so they know what to expect from you at all times. It may seem repetitive to repeat things that are obvious to all businesses, like delivering excellent customer service. Still, your customers will appreciate you stating your values. It allows them to know precisely what they are getting into and makes for an easier decision on whether they’d like to do business with you.
Your brand’s mission defines the purpose of your product or service. This is your opportunity to connect with your audience on an emotional level. Introduce your brand’s audience to your passion and how you plan to share that with them. People do business with people they like, and your brand’s mission is a great way to build a following of people who will stand behind you and support your cause.
While your brand mission defines what your organization does today and how you plan to impact your audience, your brand vision identifies where you intend to take your company in the future. What can your customers expect if they become loyal followers of your brand? Building a successful brand requires both a great mission and vision, working in harmony to deliver a great product today and a brighter future tomorrow.
Your brand imagery is inclusive of the style of photographs, icons, and wordmarks that your company uses and accepts on its web publications and marketing materials.
Whether you’re a new business just getting started or an existing company looking to re-brand and create a new image, it’s never too early or too late to develop your brand guideline. We’ve built hundreds of brand guidelines here a Continental Management Consultants and would love to help you build yours. Get in touch with us, and we’ll make sure you’re on the right track of building a distinguished brand.