According to the renowned ad man, David Ogilvy, a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” However, at a more tangible level, a “Brand” comprises of all the elements such as the logo, color pallet, typography, taglines, symbols, etc. that help you differentiate your brand from the others.
As per business dictionary, a brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating a distinctive image for a product/company. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind. Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value.
The methodology of creating a unique and distinguishing personality of any product with the help of various elements is known as branding.
Any firm’s greatest asset is its brand. Successful branding is what makes your firm the most recognizable and has the utmost recall value. Firms distinguish themselves with their logos, their taglines, typography, secondary and primary fonts and any form of visual language that helps position the brand and create a perception about it which eventually builds brand equity and business in the long run.
So, what are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines, or also commonly known as brand style guide, are a set of rules that dictate the terms of usage of logos, brand colors, and any kind of messaging that is associated with the brand. These elements help the brand maintain higher consistency for your firm’s public image, and helps boost sales. Any customer is more likely to buy from a brand that they recognize, as they get an assurance of quality and an understanding of the brand’s credibility. Brand guidelines give you recognition in a cluttered market by visually defining its identity, which makes the customers trust you more.
Brand guidelines also define how your brand should be represented visually across various channels such as brochures, visiting cards, leaflets, letterheads, websites, advertisements, etc. It is extremely vital to maintain this consistency across various media to avoid any kind of confusion that could eventually hinder your sales. The market is full of brands and products that are at times similar, and it becomes difficult to appeal to the customer. At such times, some of them might even offer a time sensitive offer to convince the customer, but this does not guarantee any kind of quality.
Companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. have all successfully made themselves stand out in the market, which is only due to successful branding and delivery of assured quality, and have successfully created an overall impression of their products by maintaining consistency. Customers today recognize these brands by just glancing at the logo, colors, typography, etc. Brand guidelines ensure that your brand is recognized by the right people at the right time. These companies have certain guidelines that they follow throughout their communication processes and maintain the most important factor of brand communications – consistency.
Brand assets are those indicators that help the customer to identify and recognize a brand easily in the market full of similar products. It includes elements such as fonts, taglines, primary or secondary color palettes, text spacing, logo placement, line indents, background colors, etc. Brand guidelines help set these unique characteristics that establish the brand’s presence in the market and make it exclusive.
Following are the key factors to why brand guidelines are important:
Brand Identity: Any brand’s identity involves the brand’s mission, vision, core values and their personality traits. It is extremely necessary for a brand to integrate their identity through messages across the various mediums at all times. A brand identity, or also knows as a corporate identity, forms a decisive image in the minds of the customer on the basis of past experiences, or simply its appeal. Brand guidelines are a comprehensive manual or guide that explains how the brand elements are to be used internally and externally, to ensure complete uniformity throughout the communication processes and substantially increase your brand credibility. Portraying a uniform brand identity always helps translate any brand’s appeal into a positive and cohesive image, and also showcases the brand’s mission statement and core values.
Brand Recognition: Brand recognition is the ability of the customer to identify your brand and recall its distinctive personality. A company’s branding objective would be that just a glance at the logo, slogan, font, typography, etc. should help the target customer to recognize your brand, and recall it from their memory. Brand recognition is the most important factor when it comes to retaining customers, and is the approximate estimate of how well the target group knows your brand. Whether your brand is communicating through digital media, offline advertising, hybrid advertising or a simple email campaign, effective brand guidelines help you maintain cohesiveness and create a competent, professional image.
Brand Consistency: When your brand remains consistent with its marketing/branding communication throughout all the media, it depicts uniformity and the customers receive a positive perception about the brand.
Brand Guidelines communicate your company’s design standards to your entire company, across offices and departments. Referencing this manual ensures all marketing efforts are aligned, and makes life much easier for your marketing team, designers, writers and developers as it gives them a solid framework to use and ensures everyone using your branding is on the same page.
When brands are inconsistent with their marketing communication and visual designs, it conveys a confused message which negatively impacts customer confidence in your brand. Integrated marketing communications, using the brand guidelines, ensure that the marketing communication is clear and leaves no room for doubt, uncertainty or confusion.
Brand Positioning: Firms use various brand strategies with the help of market research and analysis to create an effective perception in the minds of their customers, which is known as brand positioning. The ideology behind this is to create a unique portrayal of the brand and its products and become the go-to brand for customers when needed. Brand positioning involves the brand’s purpose, mission statement, slogan, imagery, etc and most importantly, it’s visual appeal as well. A brand’s visual appeal due to its colors, fonts, and the overall feeling of it has an effective psychological appeal to the customers. Brand guidelines help the firm to maintain visual regularity that essentially help in psychologically positioning themselves exactly where they want in the customer’s mind.
Without Brand Guidelines, it’s almost impossible to maintain your brand’s identity and personality consistent. Partner with a strategic marketing and design team to create a brand style guide that will ensure you build and communicate a distinct, cohesive and professional brand.