The Best Brand Guidelines use Best Practice
Keep on brand with engaging and accessible style guides
Every large company has one, but few people actually bother to read it. When ignored it breeds resentment and pulls into question the very standards your company lives by. We’re not talking about the ‘KEEP KITCHEN CLEAN PLEZ THANK YOU’ sign. We’re talking about brand guidelines. You know, that document that outlines everything from your company’s story to its manifesto and approved use of logo, fonts and colors. Most of them get scrolled through once, maybe twice to clock the basics, then stashed away in a share drive somewhere and forgotten about.
So how do we move from bad practice to best practice? It all comes down to making your brand style guide a ‘main character’ within your communications development process. A character that is charismatic, uncomplicated, and always there to offer support and clean up after themselves in the kitchen. It is possible to create brand marketing documents that people won’t mind reading, are easy to understand and quick to locate.
Style guides are such a fundamental and frankly expensive brand asset, that poor presentation and visibility makes them more of a liability when creators go off piste. While you can learn the detail about the nitty gritty of what content you need in a Brand Guideline in our Brand Guidelines Best Practices Webinar, we’ve curated a list of pointers below that show how to present and share them. They are relevant whether you’re creating a brand from scratch, rebranding or simply want to increase usage of your existing set.
1. Keep them up to date
2. Make them easy to find
At the very least, having a dedicated, ‘rubber stamped’ live home for your valuable brand assets means no more guess work when it comes to the latest version.
3. Make them easier to use
- graphics, rich media (video and audio), imagery
- interactivity via downloads and links
- bullet points vs long paragraphs
- visual presentation of important text
- plain language instead of jargon or acronyms
- visual examples; a ‘best of the best’ gallery
- instructions for usage across all channels and UI elements
- clear instructions for brand partners i.e. no assumptions of knowledge
Using a digital brand repository like our BrandHub Portal helps make your guidelines ‘next level’ simple and dare we say it…fun.
Ultimately the easier they can be understood—the more they will be followed.
4. Be flexible
5. Get buy-in
6. Control and track who sees what
Online style guides allow you to personalise the experience for different users, like staff, agencies and partners. Content can be segmented into different sub brand structures making only relevant brands accessible.
Track who is accessing your brand guidelines, which page they visit, what assets are being downloaded and which ones are expiring soon.
7. Streamline brand requests
8. Add some personality!
The end game
Following brand guidelines is key to maintaining a strong, cohesive, recognizable identity that builds equity in the brand and sales in the market. They must be used at every touchpoint – from large ad campaigns to wayfinding signs and the logo on your invoices. This takes time and any deviations lengthen the process and make the company look fragmented and unprofessional. Used well, they are quite simply the fastest ticket to customer brand loyalty.
- Share or embed approved assets directly into websites and third party software.
- Make brand guidelines a part of the briefing process.
- Pre-load approved, fail safe approved dynamic creative templates ready for speedy, hassle-free localization.
- Manage creative proofing and approvals.
- Track brand compliance.