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What Are Brand Guidelines? Why Should Every Brand Have One?

Branding is a word thrown around too much, often used without understanding. According to the survey, 86% of people prefer to buy products from an authentic brand.

What does it mean to create a brand? Is there a sure-shot formula to it? What makes up your brand personality, and how do you ensure it’s authentic to you?

Your brand is not only the logo on your website or product. Your brand is who you are, what you do, and how people feel about it. Just like what Jeff Bezos says: Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.

Brand Guide: What is it?

A brand guide is a documented guide that describes a brand and provides guidelines on how to use the brand in different contexts.

A brand is the identity of a product, service, or company. And the guideline is a blueprint of how the brand presents in all its marketing materials.

A brand manual includes an instruction to use all the aspects of the brand, including logo, typography, colour palette, design elements, tone, and voice.

Having a brand guide ensures consistency across all mediums of communication. It also serves as an inspiration & reference point for the brand-building process.

Why Is A Brand Guide Must for Business?

Companies like Amul, with its famous girl character or Paperboat’s excellent visual storytelling “life is still beautiful”, have put branding at the forefront of how business is now done in India. Companies have started investing in brand guides because it is challenging to create consistent and effective marketing campaigns without them.

4 more reasons why and how you can leverage brand guides to give a facelift to your small business.

1. It’s your business identity. You may think you can create all the designs from a freelancer. But, creating a brand identity needs more than just design skills. You need to keep track of the brand tone and voice, colour scheme, logo usage rules, and more. Inconsistent branding confuses your customers as to what they should expect from you.

2. It helps your audience remember the brand. Brand Guidelines promote familiarity. Customers prefer to buy products and services from companies they can quickly identify. A strong brand increases people’s awareness of your business, encouraging them to choose you over your competitors.

3. Your brand can help you get referrals from customers. How often have you bought a product because your friend or co-worker recommended it? Customer psychology works on word of mouth. A brand guide helps you get referrals from customers based on loyalty points and other offers.

4. It is also your business’s net worth. Solid brand identity provides value to your business beyond its physical assets. The price tag on a Sabyasachi Lehenga is justified because of the brand value and identity that the company has created.

Difference between Brand Guidelines and Brand Identity

Brand Guidelines are rules that dictate how a brand is visually communicating.

They establish the proper use of your logo, typography, colour palette, and other brand elements. This document tells you how to apply your brand elements in different scenarios to ensure a consistent look and feel.

Brand Guidelines differ from Brand Identity, the overarching strategy behind your business: what you stand for and how you want to be perceived. Brand guidelines are the visual representation of that strategy.

Most brands don’t bother having guidelines because they think it is too time-consuming to develop them.

However, creating brand guidelines will save you more time than you realize in the long run. It’s much easier to create one set of rules than constantly making decisions on how your brand should look every time.

Types Of Brand Manuals

1. Basic

A basic guideline would include instructions for using your logo, colours, and typography/typestyle. You may also want to specify which colour(s) you want as a background and which colours are not allowed as backgrounds.

2. Extended

An extended guideline would include additional information about audience personas, brand positioning, values, missions, and touchpoints. This gives more context so designers can make better design choices to communicate with customers at each stage of their journey.

Basic Brand Guidelines Elements

1. Logo Design

Logo identifies as a business in its simplest form via a mark or icon. Symbols are used to identify companies and organizations. They are designed to be the perfect visual expression of a company’s core brand value, capturing the essence of your business in an iconic symbol that separates you from competitors.

2. Logo Variations

There are many variations within logo design alone. Usage of color, white & black versions, monotone versions; the minimum size at which the logo can be used; using a logo with or without the tag line; using with or without trademark; usage with or without a weblink.

I : Single Colour Logo: Comprised of shape and negative space, it makes for a design that is not too busy or visually disappearing. Easy to scale and solid and single-colour logos look good in almost all settings.

II : Responsive Logo: Responsive Logos change in shape, size, and colour to accommodate and adapt as per placement.

3. Logo Spacing

The space around your logo makes or breaks a design. A logo cramped in a box looks unprofessional and visually cluttered. Keeping breathing space gives your logo room to breathe.

4. Brand Typography

Brand typography includes font shape, size, headlines, sub-headlines, text placement, etc.

5. Brand Colours

Brand colours make up the majority of the brand’s visual identity. With a colour palette of 3-5 complementary colours, we try to incorporate the brand personality and values into its visual design.

There are various types of brand colours

  1. Primary brand colours

  2. Secondary brand colours

  3. RGB (web) colors

  4. CMYK (print) colours

  5. Brand Imagery

It comprises a set of images shapes that visually depict the core messaging of a business. This imagery is aimed at drawing a response from your audience and making them feel a certain way.

6. Brand Story

A brand story is a tight-knit narrative of the values you embody and the emotions you evoke in your consumer. A brand story is different from advertising campaigns because it shows the conversations happening about the brand outside its CMO’s office.

7. Brand Voice

The distinct tone and personality that a brand takes on in its communications at various stages of a buyer’s journey. The language tone, the words chosen, and the writing style make up most of the brand voice.