What are the core components of brand guidelines?
You’ve no doubt heard it again and again. If you want to be a brand that’s remembered and trusted (as we all do), consistency and quality across all touchpoints is key.
But if brand touchpoints are any interaction a consumer has with you, that’s a lot to try to control. Especially if you have a pretty big team and various business partners.
This is where brand guidelines come in handy.
Everything a person needs to know in order to represent your marque, in one PDF.
Here we run through what exactly brand guidelines are, why they’re essential and their core components.
So, let’s jump in.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines outline a set of rules for how to represent your company. Think of it like an instruction manual for both your internal team and external partners.
Why do you need brand guidelines?
As we mentioned, consistency is crucial when it comes to brand perception. You don’t want to be just vaguely familiar, you want to be remembered. And brand guidelines can help you with this for the right reasons.
Let’s say you run a print ad that’s bold, brightly coloured, humorous and uses original imagery. But then you send out a promotional email that has an academic tone, pastel colours and stock photography. The consumer that sees both will either be confused or not align the two with the same company.
Not that we’re saying there can’t be any variation; it’s important to adapt visuals, message and tone to the channel of communication. But if your emails, social media, adverts, blogs and everything else you put out bear no resemblance to one another, for a start your target audience won’t know it’s you and if they do, they’ll not know what to expect from the brand or what you represent. And that’s when distrust sets in.
So, as you can see, specifying how to use your logo, sticking to an established colour palette, conveying set values and writing in a certain voice, all the while keeping that brand mission in mind, means your concept is the brand you’re showcasing.
What are the core components of brand guidelines?
A Google search will throw up a load of results that give you a slightly different mix of brand guide elements each time. So, here, we’re going to give you the core components. The constituents that you can’t do without. You could always add others but we advise not to take away.
Mission and values
To give readers an understanding of why your brand exists and what you stand for, start off by outlining your mission and values. This not only helps to give readers a basis for the decisions you’ve laid out in the guidelines, it can also help motivate them to stick to them.
Knowing the story behind the brand can mean those that work for you or with you are more invested and committed to the representation and reputation of your company.
Here you need to show how your logo is to be used. So, whether you have variations, size limits, set colours, specific spacing and alignment. It’s also useful to include examples of how NOT to use your logo.
Typography may at first seem like just a small detail. What does it matter if you use Roboto or Oswald? If the text is condensed or bold? Size 10 or 12?
In fact, it matters a lot in terms of branding. Those small details can make a big difference. To keep things legible and consistent, set standards for typeface, size, weight and colour of fonts.
Colour will most likely be the first thing your audience spots and the feature they’re likely to remember. What’s more, certain colours create certain emotions. So, choosing the right palettes that represent your brand is crucial.
Your primary colours should be between 1 – 3. They’re your main colours, the ones your target audience will immediately recall when they think of your brand. They’re used across your communications and typically in your logo.
Secondary colours may be between 1 – 6. Your secondary colours complement your primary palette. They’re used less often and for less important features, but can be useful for differentiation and flexibility.
Voice and tone
It’s key to be consistent in not just what you say, but how you say it. That’s where voice and tone come in. They may be connected, but they’re still two different things. The best way to think about it is in terms of your own voice and tone; you always have the same voice, but you’ll take a different tone depending on context.
And that’s the same with your brand. Your brand voice needs to reflect the characteristics of your brand and your personality. Is your brand friendly? Genuine? Empowering? Ambitious? Professional? Reflect this in your communications.
In terms of tone, consider who you’re speaking to, what you’re saying and where you’re saying it to determine the mood you take.
When it comes to imagery, first consider what types are to be used. Only original, a mix of your own and stock? Can illustrations be used? What about animations?
And then think of how the images are to be treated. Can effects or filters be used? Can images be cropped? Can logos be placed on the images or copy added?
To sum up
Having brand guidelines creates clarity. They make sure everyone involved in representing your company is on the same page; your team and partners don’t just know what’s expected, but also how to deliver.
Standardising communication makes for a more trusted brand. Your audience knows what they’re going to get. And if you’re reliable and memorable, why would they go elsewhere?
If you’d like any advice on creating your brand guidelines, get in touch today.