Does your company have brand standards?
A company’s “brand” is the sum of its various internal and external elements - visual, physical, emotional - that collectively represents its values, personality, services, reputation and culture.
We all know the basics of good visual branding: a polished logo, clean website, professionally designed printed materials, etc., but there are several other - often overlooked - aspects of branding that are important to invest in as you go about promoting yourself online and offline.
One of these aspects is consistency. How do you ensure that your brand maintains its quality throughout all of the various platforms in which it is active?
That's where a brand standards guide comes into play.
What exactly are brand standards?
A brand standards guide serves as a way to ensure consistency and professionalism in all of your marketing efforts. It’s a document that outlines the do’s and don’ts for your brand’s assets, but it also allows your various employees, subcontractors, owners, vendors, etc. to produce cohesive marketing materials whenever anyone touches the brand. When you have a brand standards guide, you will not have to explain how to use brand assets for each new employee or intern—everything that anyone needs to know about the brand when creating a graphic or producing any kind of collateral will be in the brand standards guide.
A brand standards guide includes, but it not limited to, the following:
Correct and incorrect logo usage (size/dimensions, colorization, placement, print vs. digital)
Color palette (primary, accent and background colors; effective combinations)
Brand fonts & usage (headlines, subhead, body, etc.)
Imagery recommendations (photography, icons)
It’s important to keep your brand standards guide on file, saved on the server or printed out on-hand for various employees to reference or to share with third parties.
Why is it important to have brand standards?
Whether it's an Instagram post, full-page ad in a trade publication or an email newsletter, it's critical for a brand to stay consistent with its colors, fonts, imagery, logo, etc. In addition to just being seen as organized, having consistently branded materials creates a positive perception of your brand across your many publics and reinforces your brand at every touchpoint and with every impression earned. By exposing your audience to your well-kept, high-quality branded materials over and over again, you increase brand recall and recognition, grow a consumer base and, eventually, turn customers into brand advocates.
How do I create a brand standards guide?
Brand standards can either be created by your in-house marketing team, a freelance designer who specializes in brand strategy or an agency/consultancy. How you create them and who creates them depends on how large your company is, how much existing materials you have, the resources at your disposal and your preference for who handles your marketing efforts.
What's important to realize here is that creating brand standards is an exercise in deep thinking and self-reflection. It is critical that the owners, marketing team, key stakeholders and even employees in some cases, be involved in this process. Whether you are starting from scratch with a new suite of materials or you are refreshing your image after some time, creating the guidelines for and capturing the essence of your brand is a process that your team should be taking seriously and in which all relevant parties should have input.
So, there you have it!
Creating brand standards is one of the more important things that it brand can do to improve its marketing efforts and see more results. If you’re at a point where your brand is feeling scattered or not as cohesive as you'd like, it may be time to consider updating, organizing and legitimizing your brand with a brand standards guide. Doing so will help you stand apart from your competitor, increase your visibility and improve your reputation among consumers.
If you have any questions about what makes a good brand standards guide or would like to share how you went about creating your own, drop us a line in the comments, tweet at us at @toucanads or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toucan Advertising is a New Orleans advertising agency.