Now that you have your brand story, voice and logo, you may be wondering, “Now what?” Well, it is time to share your newest brand with everyone: employees, vendors, marketing agencies, etc. And the best way to do this is to create brand guidelines. That way you ensure your brand, and more specifically your logo and designs, is being properly represented all of the time.
Think about your brand guidelines as a recipe. You aren’t going to start making a gourmet meal without knowing all of the ingredients and steps to make it perfect. Same goes for your brand guidelines. The more comprehensive your guidelines are, the easier it will be for others to apply your brand in different marketing materials. It’s like a recipe for your brand! So, let’s go over some of the things your guidelines should include.
- Your Brand Story: Remember we asked you to think about your brand’s voice and the values that your business holds near and dear to your heart? Take some time to introduce this in your brand guidelines. It’s great to start your guidelines with a clear overview of your company’s history, vision, mission and personality. Sharing this story will help unify your message across all of the marketing pieces you will create.
- Your Logo & How to Properly Use it: Remember that great logo we walked you through creating last week? Well, now it’s time to make sure it is used properly. Use your brand guidelines as a way to clarify what the best way to use your logo is. This means provided detailed explanation of the different versions (full color, black and white, with/without a tagline, on a colored background, on a white background, on a black background, etc.) and when to properly use each logo. For example, our logo has 2 variations in design: stacked and not-stacked. We also have an all-white version and an all black version. Its also a good idea to layout your logo and show the appropriate white space (space around the logo that allows it to breathe some). And be clear about what improper use of your logo looks like.
- Your Brand Colors: Your brand goes further than your logo and story. It’s also about the colors! Take time in your brand guidelines to outline your color palette, which helps guide the creative process for your marketing collateral. Your color palette should consist of primary and secondary colors. Most of the time, your primary colors are derived from your logo, and secondary colors are used as supporting colors that complement your logo and are typically shades of neutrals. You should also be sure to include the proper color code for print (CMYK & Pantone) and web (RGB & HEX).
- Your Typography: Have you seen a website or advertisement that has one too many typefaces used? It is a bit much, right? This is where a great brand guideline comes into play. Pick one typeface as your primary choice. It should have various weights and styles, and then illustrate how these can be used for various pieces of your marketing collateral, such as a headline, body text, etc. You should also include 1-2 typefaces that can be used as an alternative.
Now these are just a few of the things to get you started with creating great brand guidelines. You may want to consider including information about your audience, your tone of voice, and examples of your brand in use. But, much like your logo and story, you should show these guidelines to a third party and see their reaction to it. Ask questions like: Was it easy to understand? Was there something missing? Do you get a better feeling for what our brand is about? It’s also a good idea to take a look at the brand guidelines for some of the brands you love. This will inspire you when creating your own.