What Are Brand Guidelines and What Do They Need?

When most people think of branding, they think about just the visual elements, such as the logo and the color palette. The fact is, a brand identity is one of the most important parts of business development.

The brand of today has a personality, told through storytelling and a positive relationship with audiences. Brand identity guidelines are a vital document that details your brand elements and makes it easier for team members to represent your brand.

Creating a brand mission statement should be a priority for businesses of all sizes and sectors. But what are brand guidelines? They are one of the most important parts of your business model.

What Are Brand Guidelines Used For?

A well-researched and optimized branding-focused mission statement will be able to communicate a vast amount of information about your business. That communication can be used internally and externally.

While there are plenty of online templates available, there remains little in the way of a formal structure for creating a brand guideline document. The basics remain the same, though, and your brand guidelines should be a resource that is constantly being fine-tuned to reflect changing trends and company growth. At their core, brand guidelines will contain:

Information about your brand identity: Including tone of voice, elevator pitch, mission statement, core values, and brand personality.

Detailed breakdown of brand assets: Logo designs, including logo colors and overall color palette, the fonts that you use, and any visual elements that you use to reinforce your brand personality.

Your branding guidelines will be critical when onboarding new team members, when you're launching a new business venture, or rebranding a business with stunted growth. What are brand guidelines used for? Communicating who you are as a business, your goals, and your market position.

What Are Brand Guidelines Going to Bring To Your Business?

It can take a lot of time and work to create brand identity guidelines. That’s one of the reasons why so many businesses outsource their brand development and brand identity guidelines creation to an established branding agency. There are a lot of benefits to a document that conveys all of your brand identity guidelines, including:

Brand Consistency: You want everyone who visits your website, receives one of your business cards, or sees your branded apparel to immediately recognize you. If you have a variety of mismatched brand elements, such as different versions of your logo, then that connection is going to be lost. Even changes to a color palette for your brand colors is going to mean a disconnect from audiences. You need consistency across your website, your social media pages, and all of your marketing material. Consistency is critical in branding, and your brand identity guidelines will make that consistency easier to meet.

Establishing Rules: There’s a good chance that you already know your branding from the top down, but every member of your team, including brand new hires, is going to need to know your brand inside out too. Your branding mission statement will make this much easier. It will consist of all of the rules regarding how your logos are used, and the tone of voice that you communicate to your target audience, from customers to suppliers to investors.

Recognizability: The right versions of your logo aligned with your brand colors will become more recognizable if they are consistent. It can take a long time to build a recognizable brand, which is why your brand identity guidelines need to evolve and adapt over time. Having a brand book that details the basics of your visual elements and your tone of voice will go a long way to speeding up brand awareness and trust.

Brand Value: One of the most underutilized elements of a brand identity guideline book and mission statement is that the more cohesive a brand identity, the more value that identity will have. Quality and integrity are high-value for positive branding, and if you can improve both via a well-designed brand message, then the brand value will increase organically.

What Are Brand Guidelines Going To Need?

The key to a more valuable brand identity is to invest time into research. You should look at the messaging that you have already used and which versions of it have made the most impact. Do this across all of your marketing methods.

When asking what are brand guidelines going to need, you need to look at your brand positioning and look for ways to define your brand through verbal and visual cues. Even the most basic brand book will contain the following elements:

Color Palette: You should stick to as few colors as possible in your color palette. Look at Coca-Cola’s red and white, or McDonald’s red and yellow. Make sure that your brand guidelines include both CMYK and RGB color codes to prevent inconsistency between printed marketing material and digital.

Typography: Always stick to using one font, one font size, and a strict hierarchy of H1, H2, and H3 headers.

Logos: You may have tried a few different versions of your logo in the past, and some of those older versions may still be present on old web pages or printed marketing materials. If you don’t yet have a logo, then this is one of the most common branding agency services used by business owners. Logo designs can be hard to get right, and their use needs to be strictly monitored. Don’t just show how they should be used, but highlight how they shouldn’t.

Tone of Voice: When looking at what are brand guidelines used for, tone of voice is one of the hardest to get right. This will largely depend on your target audience. A finance company will communicate very differently from a skateboard store. Customer and competitor research is vital if you want to get your tone of voice right.

What are brand guidelines? They are living documents that evolve as you grow, ensure brand consistency, and make brand awareness easier to achieve. It helps you stand out from your competitors while appealing to your target audience, driving sales, and encouraging growth. Remember to make sure that everyone in your business has access to your brand identity guidelines, and your branding and your business will only benefit.