Rules Were Made to Be Broken? Think Again... How to Create Brand Standards for Your Business
Whether you’re a global corporation or a small mom-and-pop operation, brand standards are a must. Brand standards are a set of “design rules” that businesses adhere to as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors and spread brand awareness. Think about it: how can you build a relationship with your customers if your marketing materials are out of synch with one another? How can you get a foot hold on the competition if your brand is undefined and sending out mixed messages? Establishing a set of standards helps eliminate confusion among customers (and team members) and makes your business look polished and professional.
Our first piece of advice is to begin laying out a set of guidelines for employees. Think of it as a handbook: a formal set of rules for quick and easy reference whenever a question pops up about how to use various brand elements. The nuts and bolts of your guidebook will depend entirely on the needs of your business, the number of employees and how you communicate with various audiences. Keep in mind: rules that are too rigid can cripple creativity while rules that are too flimsy will create inconsistencies within your marketing collateral. That said, if you’re looking to establish a solid set of brand standards, focus on the following areas:
Brad Standard 1: Logo
The consistency of your logo is one of the most important (if not the most important) rule to establish. Clearly articulate on how it should be used in marketing collateral. This includes everything from brochures to letterhead to business cards. Give directions on minimum size requirements, placement, colors and how to incorporate your logo with your tagline.
Brand Standard 2: Graphics
Make sure your use of basic shapes, borders, patterns and backgrounds are all consistent. If, for example, you create a power point slide presentation, insert a template for each slide and stick to it. This type of uniformity reinforces your brand and helps customers identify your company in the marketplace.
Brand Standard 3: Copy
Clearly define the tone of your copy. Everything from the text on your website to the way in which you describe your products in marketing collateral should sound like it came from the same pen. Consider writing style, tone and voice. Is your business sarcastic? Polite? Professional? Friendly? Whatever the case, make sure your copy conveys your brand image.
Brand Standard 4: Colors
Color is incredibly important in defining your brand’s visual identity. It helps your audience remember your brand and can often make or break a first impression. Provide a list of approved colors that can be used in designs and marketing collateral. You may even divide your colors into primary and secondary groups.
Brand Standard 5: Fonts
The same rule for colors applies here: provide your team with a list of approved fonts. It’s a good idea to choose at least one serif font and a sans-serif font. This way, you’ll have flexibility when creating headlines, body copy, charts with numerical data, etc. Be sure to keep in mind that your font (like everything else in your guidelines) should reinforce your brand identity.
Brand Standard 6: Imagery
In the same way you define copy, define imagery. Are you using photography or illustrations? Do you go color or black and white? Try and choose images that contain similar styles and tones. In your guidelines, provide your team members with examples of approved images so that designers can see similarities at a glance.
Need to create your own set of brand standards? Give us a ring! We can help get you started!