It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your marketing department is—there might still be some confusion about what brand guidelines are, the value they offer, and the role they play in defining, maintaining, and creating a brand identity.
The issue is largely one of semantics. Brand book guidelines, brand standards guide, branding guidelines, style guides, brand books, brand identity guidelines—these can either be treated synonymously or as wholly separate resources, depending on which “brand expert” you’re speaking with, reading, or listening to at that moment.
These terms all represent roughly the same idea. And to create effective brand guidelines, you’ll need to first understand what they actually are and why they matter. Then we’ll get into how you can structure yours to put your brand and company in the best position to succeed.
At the core of it all is our brand purpose, our reason for being. No, it’s not just making money—it has to be more than that, something much deeper.
Yes, they are often used by designers to make certain they’re using the right fonts, color palette, and versions of your logo. But effective brand guidelines should be much more than that—for smart organizations, brand book guidelines are a resource that everyone in the company can use to understand how to represent their brand.
From your sales, marketing, and customer service teams, who are out there communicating with prospects every day, to the finance director who’s at a networking event and gets asked what their company does, everyone should have more than a cursory understanding of what genuinely makes your organization unique.
Brand guidelines take many forms, so rather than telling you exactly what you need to include in your brand guidelines, I’ll share what we include in our own, not because ours are authoritatively the best around, but because we do this for a living and they will at least get you thinking (plus I do actually think they’re pretty good).