Also known as ‘graphic standards’ or ‘brand standards,’ the brand guidelines document is an instruction manual for creating communications that are aligned with the strategic position and identity.
Successful brand guidelines provide detailed direction and specifics for marketers and designers on choosing layouts, fonts, colors and artwork for internal and external communications. In addition, it may provide a discussion of the intent or rationale for the brand position – a more philosophical review of the brand’s character and flavor – that can be useful for strategic managers, creative directors and writers. The guidelines help keep the look and voice of communications the same, so every communication comes from a single voice – recognized, trusted and true – no matter who creates a piece.
Do’s and don’ts – with an emphasis on do’s
While the guidelines will give examples of how NOT to do things (improper use of logos, unacceptable colors or fonts, for example), the focus is on the intent of the brand identity, the spirit and mood that communications should express. If the guidelines are inspirational and liberating, instead of confining and strict, employees can better understand the expectations and become empowered to ‘live the brand.’
Subjects covered by brand guidelines:
- Brand position: Personality and promise of value
- Tone and Voice: Copy style and language direction
- Logos: Color treatments, scaling and position
- Typography: Approved font families, weights, colors and sizes
- Photography: Image content, reproduction styles, color and placement
- Color: Approved color palettes, tints, sub-brand combinations
- Corporate stationery: letterhead, business cards, labels, envelopes
- Advertising: Ad formats and layout options, typography
- Point of Sale: Signage formats, materials, menus, color and type treatments
- Environmental Graphics: Building signage, interiors, way-finding
- Web Graphics: Direction on page headers, banner adds, navigation and type
- Miscellaneous: Staff uniforms, vehicles, phone systems, email formats, etc.