What Are Brand Guidelines?

Posted by Scott Blanton on October 12, 2017

What Are Brand Guidelines?

When you have the right branding and design, your business can soar. There’s certainly more to it than that, but the right brand story and strategy are powerful marketing tools that every business needs in order to compete and grow. The only question is: how do you maintain that story and strategy through business growth?

The answer: brand guidelines.

What are brand guidelines?

If you’re asking yourself “what are brand guidelines?” then don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

The simple answer to “what are brand guidelines?” is that brand guidelines are a set of rules and tools that help you and your team effectively use your brand elements like your logo.

The more complex answer to “what are brand guidelines?” is that brand guidelines are a set of rules and tools that help you and your team maintain:

  • Your brand story
  • Your logo’s design strategy
  • Your brand’s core values and integrity
  • Your brand’s consistency

If you’re going to spend money and time creating a business and brand worth talking about, then you need the right tools to help you maintain both of those objectives. You need brand guidelines to help your team effectively propel your brand and business to the next level.

Go after that group. Understand that group. Make that group your people. If they love you and your product, they’ll spread the word.

Why You Need Brand Guidelines

Essentially, it all comes down to the four points below. Your brand guidelines, if written and executed correctly, will help your team maintain your brand’s identity over time.

Maintaining the power of your brand story.

Whether you’ve spent time cultivating your brand story or you don’t even know it’s a thing, your brand story needs to be powerful and carry some real weight. Your brand story is what consumers will remember for days, weeks, months, after their first interaction with your brand. It’s not just the words on a piece of paper or on your website. Your brand story is what’s fueling everything your brand does. It’s the why and how behind who you are.

Because it’s so important to your brand, your story needs to be maintained over time. Otherwise, your story can become diluted, lose meaning, or become so twisted you don’t recognize it anymore. As your business builds and grows, you need brand guidelines to help you maintain the power of your story. So, when an employee asks, “what are brand guidelines” you can tell them that brand guidelines are tools used to maintain the power of your brand’s story.

Maintaining your logo design strategy.

Have you ever stopped to consider the meaning behind your logo? You should. Because if your logo is three lines and a dot, it might look cool, but it doesn’t mean anything. A logo without meaning or strategy behind it will fall flat. Your target audience is looking for a brand and a logo they can connect with. Your logo needs a strategy and your brand guidelines will help you maintain that strategy.

When more of your team starts using your logo for advertisements, flyers, or marketing materials, it can become distorted. When your logo is changed or manipulated, the strategy behind it becomes compromised. The answer to “what are brand guidelines” becomes a tool to maintain your brand and logo design strategy.

Maintaining core values and brand integrity.

Often times, brand guidelines include core values. It might seem like your branding and business operations are separate, but when it comes down to it, your core values define everything you do. These values should be reflected in your brand and your brand guidelines. Anyone who is doing anything with your branding needs to know exactly what your brand stands for.

When you have defined core values, you can maintain your brand’s integrity. The answer to your “what are brand guidelines” question comes down to maintaining integrity. You don’t want your brand to compromise. You want it to stand for something. Brand guidelines can help make sure your brand always stands for something.

Maintaining brand and element consistency.

Your brand contains multiple elements. You might have a logo, a wordmark, a brand mark, fonts, colors, and more. These elements all work together to help tell your brand’s story. When one of them isn’t used properly or becomes warped, that story is no longer the story you started out telling.

When you have brand guidelines, you increase your chances of maintaining consistency for your brand and your brand’s elements. When you have the right design, your business can continue to flourish, but when that design loses it’s meaning because it isn’t used correctly, you’ll run into issues. Brand guidelines provide the rules of using your brand’s element correctly, so you can present a consistent story.

Where do you start when creating your brand guidelines?

Before you can develop brand guidelines, you need the right branding. It isn’t just a matter of having a great logo. You need a developed brand story, brand elements, the right fonts, and even a color palette you can use in marketing materials. The team at Iconic Digital can help you develop the strategy you need to drive your branding and brand forward.

Check out how we helped Hamilton East Public Library redefine their brand and website strategy.

What are you waiting for? Let’s talk!

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Scott Blanton

Content Writer at Iconic Digital Marketing
As Iconic Digital's content writer, Scott works with clients to develop brand stories and key messaging. When he isn't typing away at his computer, you'll find him exploring new coffee shops, spending time with this family, or working on a new home improvement project.

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