What are Brand Guidelines?

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On most occasions, even before your Brand is physically present in the market as a product or a service, it enters the social space. Here, it is all alone; you are not there to explain what it stands for, what is your company’s vision, what are the values it espouses or whom it is talking to.

The lone crusader, your Brand, has to stand on its feet and be seen and noticed; therefore, to get the attention of your consumers it has to look and behave in a consistent way for it to be recognised whenever it is seen.

A set of guidelines that define and therefore ensure consistency of look, writing style, and tone, and the overall personality of your brand in a concise manner are known as Brand Guidelines, Brand Manual or a Style Book.

What does this manual contain?

1. History, Attributes & Values
The first chapter of the Brand Manual is dedicated to an overview of your Brand’s history. It speaks about how and why your Brand came into existence. It also personifies your Brand and allocates attributesto it, e.g., Youthful, Vibrant, Serious, etc. Apart from this, it summarises the key values of your Brand, such as Honesty, Patience, Perseverance, etc.

Why this?
A history of your Brand, its mission, vision and key values helps the reader, and this readership is vast and varied, understand your brand in a contextual manner. Thus, instead of blindly following font and colour guidelines, the reader; who could also be executing tasks based on the Manual, understands the purpose of why he is doing a certain thing. The Brand Manual aligns the vision of the reader with the actual personality of the Brand; this helps in preventing a schism between perception management and execution.

2. Look & Feel
The key word here is: consistency; both, the Look & the Feel of your Brand should remain consistent in space and time.

One of the most essential components of the Look of your Brand is your enterprise’s Logo. You should strive to keep your Logo unaltered; however, slight changes are unavoidable if your brand is undergoing a marked shift or makeover.

The Logo should be placed in all communications but you should abstain from giving it undue importance by unnecessarily increasing its size. Guidelines as to what should be the ratio of size of logo to size of communication material are drafted in the Brand Manual. The colour of Logo with respect to colour of background is also limited in the manual.

The Look section also specifies the use of colours that reflect the personality of the Brand. This is known as the Colour Palette. Besides the colours, specific fonts that match the criteria are also specified, along with certain design styles. A handful of fonts should be used to give the art team a free hand to work.

As far as the aesthetics are concerned, it is also important to use distinct shapes and symbols to catch the attention of the viewer. Continued usage of these causes a Brand Association and helps the consumer in easily recollecting the Brand.

This section also speaks about the style of language in which the communication will be drafted. Just as an aesthetic style and consistency is maintained, a language style and consistency also needs to be maintained. The language should be in tune with the personality of the Brand.

Why this?
It is important to make your Brand unique and distinct in order to distinguish it from the plethora of brands that flood the markets. A unique aesthetic and language style helps your Brand become an attractive and unforgettable face in the sea of faces. Also, consistency of use of elements of communication creates a much needed homogeneity.

Why Brand Guidelines?
  • Brand Guidelines help you establish your brand in terms of identity.
  • The recall that they effectuate results in better sales.
  • The Brand value that they create helps in creating the Brand itself and ultimately lower marketing activities and increase sales.
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