When your organization goes through a full rebranding, you’re going to need to formalize the rules by which your new brand identity can play. The way to do this is through a brand guidelines document – a near biblical set of standards created by your branding agency.
Just short of the Ten Commandments, this document can vary in breadth and depth, depending on the size and goals of your organization. But in every case, it exists to help resources reproduce your look and feel to spec, ongoingly, regardless of what agency they work for. Sadly, many organizations overlook the importance of such a document.
Consider This About Brand Guidelines
A company with ongoing marketing efforts and on-call agencies will likely need granular brand guidelines. This kind of document is often the size of a small telephone book. It walks you through brand strategy, and it shows you how to apply logos, colours, fonts, layouts, images, taglines and core brand copy, with laundry lists of dos and don’ts.
Firms that don’t continually need new marketing materials can suffice with something much briefer. Usually, guidelines outlining the basic usage of the logo, colour palette, font family and imagery are just fine. Some of our clients even do great with the 1Page Brand Guidelines document we offer. Whatever package it comes in, this less granular approach rarely addresses brand strategy or tone of voice. It’s for firms who call their agency once in a blue moon.
Key Things to Ask Yourself
When the scope of your guidelines document is clear, there are a few more questions to consider before you buy:
- How are your brand guidelines going to be internalized by your team?
- Who is going to police them?
- What role, if any, is your C-suite going to play in the approval process?
- Have you budgeted time for your branding agency to include enough visual examples?
- How will your guidelines help resources intuit your look and feel, so your brand identity can be applied to newly emerging media?
- How and when will your guidelines be updated? By whom?
Finally, try to remember that guidelines are not a shortcut to problem solving. That means they should only be written about branded collateral that has actually been produced. If you can keep these critical questions in mind, you’ll be in good shape to commission the right brand bible.