Building and maintaining a consistent and recognizable brand identity is essential to help establish a presence and build strong relationships with customers and key audiences related to your brand.
It consists of a combination of elements that work together to create a general image and experience that will be associated with your business.
Consistency is key when it comes to brand presentation as it will help you have more brand visibility and therefore, build trust and lead your target audience through the marketing funnel much easier. To achieve that, it is important to build comprehensive brand guidelines.
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines, brand manuals or brand style guides are a detailed set of rules and tools which are created and put together in one place, describing how your company will be presented to the world.
This way, all the branding elements created for your company like your logo, fonts, color palettes or symbols will be used in an effective and cohesive manner that will ensure consistency and excellent results in your brand’s visibility.
Ultimately, the goal is to protect your company’s integrity and professionalism – investing in building brand guidelines is as important as developing brand elements; it is the only way to ensure that everything you’ve put together to create a strong brand identity will be used to represent and showcase who your company is to your audience and the world.
Why Brand Guidelines are important?
If consistency is the road to success, then brand guidelines are the means that will lead you there faster.
Brands that are consistently presented are 3-4 times more likely to have excellent brand visibility that those with an inconsistent brand presentation.1 Having a detailed guide for your brand will help anyone in touch with your company get a better idea of how to properly represent it.
Without them, the visual identity of the brand can easily be misguided; incorrect color palettes, improper use of logos, wrong color palette and off-brand messaging to name just a few of the things that can go wrong and hurt the general consistency approach of a business.
That is why having brand guidelines really matters. Not only they help remain on brand and provide consistency, but they can also benefit your company in several ways:
1. Better Comprehension
Having a clear set of rules and standards promotes better communication with anyone in touch with your company; from content creators, designers, printing, and other production companies.
Having guidelines for essential things for your brand identification like your logo, brand imagery, typography, data visualization, color use, word-marks, or graphic elements to name just a few, will result in a cohesive image and an overall better experience.
If you buy print advertising, for example, you will need your graphic designer to know all the necessary info on how your brand should be represented; your logo, fonts, or color palette.
Social Media is another great example of the critical use of brand guidelines. In the busy world of social media, having a consistent image in all your social media assets from your avatars to headers, imagery, and brand tone is essential to stand out.
2. Effective Organization
Guidelines will assist you both externally and internally. If your reputation depends upon the effective use of the brand elements you have created, you should make sure that anyone and everyone uses them in an appropriate way; this includes the company employees.
Very few companies, 26%, have brand guidelines that are easy for employees to find.2 Brand consistency applies to day-to-day tasks such as emails, presentations, or letters and every employee should have access to the necessary tools. Everything works together to build a professional and trust-worthy image in all aspects of your brand.
Imagine hiring a new employee; what better and easier way to introduce him to the rules of your brand identity than brand guidelines? She will get to know your brand standards and keep the brand’s consistency.
3. Better Quality Control
Projects can be chaotic, and deadlines can be strict; this can result in ineffective content and misused elements. Having well-rounded guidelines will ensure that you always create professional, quality content that you’re proud of.
The specific brand guidelines contain, showcase a set of clear standards of what can and can’t be used, things to do and not to do in order to create effective content.
Imagine hiring a design company to create your new website or a video; how much easier it will be to control the quality of the finished product, if you have sent them your brand manuals – everything will be curated according to your existent brand imagine.
4. Build Crediblity
Having a clear image of your brand identity results in a boost in your company’s credibility.
By investing in creating a style guide for your business, you will be able to show your audience and potential customers, that you are professional and trustworthy – 31% of consumers say trustworthiness is the most important brand attitude.3
It is a simple act with a strong message to the people you want to connect with; you value their time by offering what they need and want.
5. Brand Consistency & Recognition
To deliver an effective and excellent-quality customer experience, you need to be cohesive and remain on-brand.
An astonishing 60% of millennial consumers expect a consistent brand across all channels.4 To achieve that, you should follow the guidelines created for you by your branding agency. It will make it easier for people to recognize your brand, rely on you and even expect and seek-out your branded content.
Examples of Netflix and Apple
Take Netflix or Apple for example; its consistent branding with visual guidelines such as its logo, fonts, typography and colors has led to a unique bond with its audience and a strong, recognizable brand in the blink of an eye
Netflix has specific branding guidelines when it comes to its logo and symbol mainly. These guidelines specify everything from its logo, clearing space, watermark, colors, and the use of its symbol.
Meanwhile, there is a list of mistakes to avoid concerning the use of its logo:
Apple has developed detailed PDF’s with specific guidelines for every possible use of its’ trademark logo, font, headlines or images featuring do’s and don’ts, mistakes to avoid and scenarios of possible misuse of its assets.
Each PDF includes branding guidelines for affiliates, re-sellers, Apple-Certified individuals or even developers. They cover a broad field of possible scenarios from email signatures, Social Media, Vehicles with the Apple Logo to Merchandise, Apple Product Photos and even Store facades for certified re-sellers.
Examples of Qatar Airways and Qatar Foundation
Qatar Airways, the fourth most valuable brand in the Mena region, is a great example of successful branding as a result of specific brand guidelines; from its logo, the oryx, Qatar’s national animal to its color scheme which is influenced by the burgundy color in Qatar’s flag.
Being Qatar’s international airline, Qatar Airways perfectly incorporates both the traditional values of the country along with the modernity of Doha with its consistent branding across all its assets, from its social media to its website, its campaigns and, of course, its signature on-board experience.
The company’s campaigns are carefully-curated to highlight its award-winning service with an emphasis to promoting uniqueness and impeccable quality.
The “Going Places Together” campaign specifically, has helped the airline build an incredible bond with its passengers across the globe delivering an engaging message that promotes its high values.
Lastly, to further enhance its cohesive message and promote Qatar’s rich traditions, Qatar Airways has a set of standards in order to offer exceptional passenger service.
Its award-winning burgundy uniforms are in the world’s best-known cabin crew uniforms while the music that welcomes passengers on board all Qatar Airways flights is a specially-composed piece by legendary Qatari musician Dana Al Fardan.
Another great case of successful branding with the use of brand guidelines is Qatar Foundation. The non-profit organization that is made up of more than 50 entities working in education, research and community development, features consistent branding elements based on the Qatari heritage.
Its logo, the Sidra Tree, is native to Qatar and flourishes in harsh and arid climate. In the words of Her Highness, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, “Its roots are bound in the soil of this world and its branches reaching upward toward perfection, it is a symbol of solidarity and determination”.
Its unique identity remains strong across all platforms; its message is international but at its heart carries the spirit and values of Qatar.
Source: Qatar Foundation
Ultimately, it’s not always about what your content is about, rather than having the design consistency that will help your audience relate to your brand and create a great user experience.
We use to say that branding is key to a successful business. But what it really comes down to is one simple word;
consistency. The only way to achieve brand consistency and create a powerful, trustworthy business is by building strong guidelines that will lead you to effective results and ensure continuity in your brand’s identity.