Building a brand’s visual identity takes a great deal of time and effort. Logos, websites, digital communications and marketing campaigns can be months in the making. Subconsciously, standards will exist, even without physical brand guidelines. As organisations focus their attention on day-to-day business activities, all to often those once consistent brand elements start to fall out-of-step.
A key ingredient to an effective brand is consistency. To attract and retain customers, organisations need to build trust through brand consistency. The more cohesive your brand is, the more recognizable it is to consumers, increasing your brand’s perceived credibility. In order to achieve this level of consistency, organisations can use brand guidelines to ensure that visual standards are followed.
What are brand standards?
Brand standards or guidelines define how your brand’s graphic elements should be used and set the tone in which your organisation communicates with customers. They detail elements such as logo usage, colour palette, typography and photography.
To ensure consistency across all marketing touchpoints, they are usually provided to stakeholders who use your brand elements to create marketing material. As a result, no matter who’s responsible for your marketing efforts, whether it’s an external supplier or an internal member of the team, everyone will have a universal understanding of how your brand should be perceived.
Why are brand standards important?
1. They maintain consistency
Effective brands are hugely consistent. Change your brand’s colour palette or use a new typeface each time you run a a marketing campaign and it will have a negative impact on your brand’s memorability. Brand standards keep your brand identity consistent and recognisable. Consequently, consumers will perceive your brand as trustworthy and professional.
2. They define rules
Brand standards contain specific rules detailing how to use brand elements such as logos, colour palettes and typography. They are not there to limit creativity, but to assist anyone tasked with producing creative communications for your organisation and to make certain that all brand elements appear as they should.
3. They provide tools
In addition to setting rules, brand standards provide tools to keep your brand identity consistent. These can be used by anyone sending a message from your brand and include elements such as a logo pack, font files, brand patterns and image treatments to name but a few.
4. They provide a clear understanding of your brand
Brand guidelines aren’t just for designers and writers. Anyone within an organisation can use them to get a grasp on the company values. You may be very familiar with your brand if you helped create it, but brand guidelines can be a useful asset to a new employee learning how your organisation communicates with customers.
5. They add value
When your brand’s identity is cohesive, your brand’s perceived value increases. Visual consistency will give your brand a professional and reliable appearance. By employing brand guidelines, you make it easier to maintain the quality of your brand’s image.
Who needs brand standards?
Developing brand guidelines follows the development of brand elements such as the logo, colour palette, and typography. If you’re starting a business, now is the perfect time to develop your brand and create your brand guidelines.
You may have already established your brand. However, it’s not too late to develop brand guidelines to tighten up the use of existing brand elements and add an extra layer of consistency. Remember, you need brand guidelines to maintain a cohesive identity, and if your a new or existing organisation and feel like brand guidelines would help move your company forward, we’d love to help.