If you work for big corporations like Coca-Cola or Google you expect a specific set of brand guidelines that stakeholders adhere to, right? So, why should this be any different for smaller businesses?
Even if you are a start-up or an SME, developing a set of brand guidelines doesn’t restrict your choices. It actually gives your creative team the freedom to develop projects based on your brand’s identity. For businesses big and small, brand guidelines not only shape the way you see your product/service but also how you want others to perceive you. Surely, this is something you want better control over?
What should brand guidelines include?
1. Develop big picture thinking
A 500-page document listing how to rotate your company’s logo is an easy way to lose your employees attention. There is no need to worry about the minute details, having an overly specific set of guidelines is sure to stifle creativity and is frankly annoying for your graphic design team.
How can you strike the right balance between micromanaging and having an ‘anything goes’ approach? Well, start your guidelines using big picture thinking. Ask questions, such as What is our mission statement? and What are our core values?, which cannot be answered in a few lines. In order to truly understand your brand, the first step is to brainstorm answers to these questions. These answers will inform your brand’s identity.
For a small business, this might seem like a waste of time and resources, but dedicating time to formulating or reinforcing your brand’s identity is sure to provide long term benefits. For example, developing a brand voice will make it easier for your marketing team to produce social media content that customers easily recognise and connect with. Interactions with customers will also become easier.
2. Consistency is key
“Consistency allows your brand to appear more professional and reliable,” Ruby Porter.
It is important that every decision is thought through. Brand guidelines should be consistent and concise when considering logos, colours and typography. Your company’s brand persona should present a cohesive message to both internal and external stakeholders.
The logo you choose shouldn’t just be for aesthetic purposes, the user interface should also be considered. Research shows that logo designs influence purchasing decisions. Colours evoke different reactions and emotions in people, so it’s important that you choose the right colour palette for your business. If you’re a small spa business, choosing red as your main colour might not be as soothing as white or pastels.
Whether you’re a big corporation or a start-up, investing in a unique logo and colour scheme is vital for long term success. Using a cheap design service might only give you a mashup of stock images, which don’t resonate well with your customers.
3. It’s time everyone got involved
There’s no point making a handbook and storing it away. Ensure that everyone has access to your company’s brand guidelines at all times. Using a web-based brand manual such as Google docs is a good way to start. This will allow for easy access and version control. Generating input from your employees will encourage healthy discussion as your organisation grows.
Successful businesses evolve as they become more experienced in their field. Brand guidelines shouldn’t be any different. It is impossible to get everything right the first time. As time goes on, some rules might seem less important than others. It’s essential to build brand guidelines that meet the needs of today rather than ones that meet future “perceived” needs. Focus on the core aspects of your brand – brand identity, a tone of voice and design elements.
Get in touch
If you are a business that needs to find your tone of voice, develop a unique brand persona and strategies for your next marketing project then contact us. We’ll be happy to bring our famous #HackDay to your home turf.