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How to create brand guidelines

Brand guidelines are important for incorporating your branding into all your marketing activities seamlessly and consistently. Here’s how to develop them.

Humans are creatures of habit.

We might want to change something in our lives and for some time we might, but too often we fall back onto doing what we have always done. It feels comfortable; it’s what we know.

In marketing, we see this a lot too. Companies put a lot of effort into developing a strong brand and all its brand assets, but after a period of staying on brand with their marketing, they eventually slide back into what they’ve always done.

That’s why brand guidelines, sometimes called a style guide, are so important. They contain all the information about the brand and its usage, so that incorporating branding into all marketing activities is seamless, consistent, and easy.

Every business needs brand guidelines – here’s how you can develop yours.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines are the rule book that makes sure that your brand identity grows and is strong and recognisable to your audience across every platform and media channel.

Brand guidelines are a style guide that cover a broad range of elements, all which impact how your brand is portrayed and how it is perceived.

Together, brand guidelines form all of the instructions you need to communicate the right messages in the right manner every time you create new marketing materials for your company.

What should brand guidelines include?

What’s included in your brand guidelines will differ according to every company, but there are a few things they should always contain.

It’s important to outline your brand’s mission, values, and vision, because these are the things that underpin your entire marketing strategy. From there, it gets more specific.

Your brand guidelines should include your logo and how it is to be used, including colour palette, size and placement. It should also include any other visual designs as well as information about photo types and look and feel.

It should also include tone and grammar, as well as font types and usage. Your style guide should also contain templates for business card and letterhead designs.

How do you create brand guidelines?

There are a number of important elements to include in your brand guidelines. Here’s how you can start creating yours:

1. Define your brand identity

When creating a style guide, it can be hard to know where to start, but a good place is by defining the mission, values and vision.

As you flesh these out, start thinking about what are the things that differentiate your brand from its competitors and why customers should choose you.

2. Review your brand’s logo

Is your logo easily recognisable? Does it instantly convey everything you want to tell people about your brand?

Chances are, when you contemplate this, you’ll probably fall somewhere between yes and no – so then turn your mind to how you might strengthen the power of your logo.

The elements you choose will form the basis of your style guide. How is the logo to be used? What are some consistency boundaries you can set including size and placement?

3. Confirm your brand’s colour palette

If we learned anything from Cadbury’s marketing it’s that a strong association with a colour can have real bottom line results.

In fact, studies have shown that use of a signature colour can increase brand recognition by as much as 80 per cent.

In your style guidelines you want to include primary, secondary, and accent colours, as well as the RGB, HEX, and CMYK codes to ensure accuracy.

4. Determine your brand’s typography

Just like colour, a strong and identifiable font can increase brand recognition at a glance. Be sure to document the exact font types that you use across your branding, including point size and any use of formatting such as bold and italics.

Remember, your font choice is not just for your logo. Consider where else people will see fonts when interacting with your brand – what will you use for headings on your website, body copy in your email newsletters, as well as copy across social media tiles, print flyers, and other collateral?

You want a consistent experience across your entire brand, so be sure to cover font choices across all platforms and mediums.

5. Establish your brand’s tone of voice

Creating your brand’s tone of voice is, in effect, creating the personality you want to have speaking to your audience.

In your brand guidelines, it should include things like level of formality, complexity of words used, and the emotion conveyed. It should apply to all marketing mediums, including print and online.

6. Set rules for using imagery and other assets

Chances are, you’ll be using images and video in your marketing, so it is essential that you set some guidelines around this.

Is there a certain brightness or colour saturation that best supports your brand? Are wide shots preferable or up close? What about the people and landscapes you choose?

7. Update and evolve your brand guidelines

Brand guidelines should be seen as a living document; one that grows and develops with your brand.

Regular reviews are essential to make sure your guidelines stay relevant and continue to support the growth of your brand.

Speak to the branding and marketing experts

Brand guidelines should underpin all your marketing activities, so it’s important to get it right.

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne, and we can create brand guidelines to help elevate and grow your business.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below.

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