Why every business needs brand guidelines
As branding professionals, we know that brand guidelines aren’t just a cherry on top of your rebrand. They are a critical part of the rebranding process that provide long-lasting value. However, many clients don’t immediately recognize the importance of brand guidelines and are ready to hit the ground running without them—a risky approach that jeopardizes your hard work.
Think of brand guidelines as your brand’s user manual. They can range in complexity, but usually include rules for logo use, color palette, typography, and other graphic elements. Brands that are early in their development may opt for a more basic approach, while those with a bigger audience and more contributors benefit from more detail. Either way, delineating brand details is crucial. It allows you to remain in control of your image, create consistency, and enhance collaboration, ultimately giving you the greatest return on your branding investments.
Remain in control of your image.
Set brand standards.
Brand guidelines set clear standards that help preserve the integrity of your brand and enforce the intentional choices that have been made to align with your goals. They outline rules for every brand asset, and also let your team know how to apply them. This can include highly detailed standards such as campaign templates, or more general guidelines like color hierarchies and logo use. In addition to preserving your brand integrity, predictable standards allow for more creativity to go into strategic thinking and concept creation, ultimately resulting in more impactful sales and marketing materials.
Communicate your values.
Brand guidelines go deeper than visual identity. They explicitly communicate your brand values and help show how each element contributes to your company’s story. This leads to better relationships with your customers by enhancing perceived values—⅔ of consumers prefer to buy products from value-driven companies—and better internal relationships, too, as companies that keep brand values top-of-mind report more enthusiasm among employees and better morale.
Increase brand recognition.
By enforcing brand guidelines, you achieve more visual consistency and better brand recognition. In fact, brand recognition is one of the most important factors in establishing brand loyalty, and has even been shown to increase revenue by up to 23%. Because consistent branding strengthens your voice, it also differentiates you from competitors, lending you an edge in busy markets.
Send a unified message.
Sending the same message across channels (social media, email, and websites) ensures that customers understand what your brand is about. This helps limit confusion in the marketplace and protects your brand reputation. People buy from brands they connect with, and just as with people, it can be difficult to connect with brands that send mixed messages. Above all, showing up consistently in your branding and messaging establishes trust with your customers—and sought-after loyalty.
Empower your team.
Get your team on board.
After major branding efforts, the last thing you want is for your work to go underutilized. Make the most of your efforts by using brand guidelines as a rallying point for your team and a chance to brief everyone on the changes. Not only does this empower people to use your brand correctly, but it also provides talking points for how you want your brand to be perceived internally. By making new brand applications quicker and reducing confusion, guidelines actually help scale your brand long after its launch.
Brand guidelines improve cohesion among cross-functional teams and make it easier to collaborate with external agencies, contributors, and vendors. This expands your capacity to generate both visual and written content at speed without having to funnel everything through a single creative team. With broader access to brand information, you can invite more collaborators to take a seat at the table. You also cut down on miscommunications and time-consuming conversations about brand usage by storing vital information in one easy-to-access place for all users.
Brand guidelines promote growth.
Whether you’re going through a rebrand or a brand refresh, or just refining your brand elements, brand guidelines are the document you need for consistency and growth. In Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, the authors found “enduring proof that investment in long-term brand-building enables businesses to thrive over time and survive market volatility.” During uncertain times, it’s critical to shift our focus to the things that will provide enduring stability in our businesses. We believe brand guidelines are just that. They are your brand’s keystone document and provide the scaffolding for your business to grow strong.