Once you have established your brand you need to ensure that it is always presented in a consistent and professional way – your brand guidelines can help you do this.
Over time, inconsistencies or anomalies in your brand application have the potential to weaken or confuse your brand message, dilute your offering and in the end lose you business that you could have otherwise won. For this reason developing a set of brand guidelines helps strengthen and avoid these issues. That is not to say that consistency has to mean slavish copying from one material to another. It is more to ensure that there is an overall course set but that parameters are allowed to respond to different environments. Consistency of corporate stationery and the size and colour of your logo are one thing but the types of messages and imagery can shift depending on where they are.
Brand guidelines also provide a base from which real momentum can spring. They can give your ideas, company ethos and what you want to achieve a real backbone. They provide you with something to remind yourself what you’re doing and how you’re going to communicate this to the outside world. They also lay the foundation for what you are NOT. It’s often not just the positive associations that you create through your brand but it can also be what you choose to avoid. While you want to capture people’s attention and their imagination where possible you don’t want to send wrong or inappropriate messages. Especially for larger companies; where you may have several offices it provides organisational cohesion. It provides a tool with which to adhere to a proven and trusted way of communicating and allow a reference point without having to constantly check with head office.
Guidelines, are of course just that – a guide; a map to help show the way. They are not the precise and exact formula with no room ever for change or experimentation. In fact as your company evolves so should your brand and it’s guidelines. Over time you may add, subtract or even change. Market, organisational or even global events may dictate such developments and any savvy company recognises that you must keep up with and even stay ahead of such changes. For example you may have had 5 main products with 1 of them becoming too costly to produce or another new one where there is a new emerging market. These scenarios would require a response and probably an update to elements of your guidelines ensuring that your team all had the latest information on what you were communicating, why and how. For companies large and small, brand guidelines are a very important tool with which to record a fundamental framework. With their creation, they provide the ability to adapt quickly as you continue to evolve.
Guidelines, are of course just that – a guide; a map to help show the way. They are not the precise and exact formula with no room ever for change or experimentation. In fact as your company evolves so should your brand and it’s guidelines.