Your brand is ultimately in the hands, or rather the minds, of your audience. The perceptions they have about your company, products, or services essentially formulate your brand. Your brand guidelines, meanwhile, can help you to control many aspects of how your audience perceives your brand.
Through your brand guidelines—best delivered as a PDF for maximum accessibility and document integrity—you should be able to turn everyone responsible for communicating or representing or interacting with your brand into knowledgeable and passionate “brand ambassadors.” Here are five steps for success:
Step 1: Know your audience.
When planning your brand guidelines, be very aware of the scope of your audience: marketing team members—both creative and editorial, customer service representatives, sales staff, marketing agencies, and so on. The audience you need to inform obviously will have direct bearing on the content you include in the document.
Step 2: Make it easy.
Your audience needs to know why it’s important to be an ambassador of your brand at every turn, but also understand how they can do it. The guidelines therefore should be easy to follow. Generally, starting at a very high level and then drilling down into more specific details is a good approach. Consider the broad strokes outlined below:
Step 3: Be thorough.
Depending on the size and type of your company, there are many different areas the brand guidelines could delve into. This short list outlines some common topics:
Step 4: Be consistent, consistently, because consistency is king.
One of the keys to establishing top-of-mind brand guidelines awareness with your audience is consistency. Provide examples to show users how to provide a consistent brand experience for your audience. (Note: If you’re preaching consistency, be sure to follow your own guidelines in the document.)
Step 5: Be the brand.
Brand guidelines can be quite complex, or very simple, depending on the size, breadth, and specific needs of your organization. And remember, while the document must include specific rules and details about how to use your brand, it shouldn’t feel like a mandate. Instead, it should be seen as a friendly guidebook for enrolling in your brand mission everyone who works with your brand.
Next month we’ll delve into the best practices for preparing the digital files to accompany your brand guidelines.