This is a Thought Leadership Article by PrimeGlobal member firm SIKICH which looks at how brand guidelines help ensure a strong brand identity.
A STRONG BRAND IS A WELL-MANAGED BRAND
Your brand is more than just your products or services. It’s one of your organization’s most valuable assets. It is the culmination of your company’s visual presence, message, promise, personality, and reputation. It is essential that all employees recognize the value of the brand and understand how to properly use it.
A study by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton and Wolff Olins found that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability
Well-defined brand guidelines allow you to clearly and consistently present your brand while establishing trust with your audience. It also ensures everyone who works with your brand is in alignment. A thorough brand guide will define clear rules for both the content (voice, tone, style) and the visual elements (logo, typography, colors) that build your marketing materials.
ANATOMY OF A BRAND GUIDE
Your brand guide may address the following components:
- Brand statements and themes
- Brand personality, tone, and voice
- Brand value
- Target audience
- Logo Usage
- Acceptable vs. unacceptable use
- Proportions, alignment, and clear space
- Secondary logos
- Color Palette
- Defined colors for digital and print (PMS, cmyk, rgb, hex values)
- Font families
- Style and sizing for headings, sub-heads, body copy
- Approved Imagery
- Photography style
- Iconography style
- Marketing Templates
- Sell sheets, brochures, white papers
- Social media
- Email templates and signatures
BUILDING TRUST & IDENTITY
The Value of Consistency. Developing a strong identity is a much easier task when you have a set of guidelines to help you maintain brand consistency. A consistent brand that communicates your purpose, personality, and promise clarifies who you are and is more likely to appeal to your target market. For example, a law firm or industrial manufacturer will likely have more stringent rules regarding tone of voice (particularly on social media) than a local restaurant or boutique. In turn, each company’s target audience will be more engaged when the tone speaks to them and creates a sense of belonging.
Established brand guidelines also help ensure that new elements will work with your existing brand. Whether you’re introducing a new product, hosting an event, or launching a social media campaign, new themes and campaigns should incorporate established brand elements to aid in recognition and acceptance.
An Image of Professionalism. A consistent tone of voice, especially one that is sincere, informed, and friendly, will help your brand maintain an image of professionalism and expertise. However, tone of voice is only one element. Consistent use of color, typography, imagery, and logos throughout your print and digital marketing materials is critical. Take the time to ensure your message and visuals are working together to strengthen your brand. One of the most important reasons for a business to establish brand guidelines is to ensure an impression of trust and competence.
Brand Recognition. Think of your favorite brand. What words would you use to describe it? How does that brand visually represent itself? Brands that are instantly recognizable execute their marketing campaigns (print, digital and social) with strict adherence to well-established guidelines. When you see the “golden arches” in red and gold, you know you’re looking at McDonald’s logo. The black and orange in the Harley-Davidson bar and shield logo is another example of how color and symbol paired together immediately delivers brand recognition. Both companies fiercely protect all elements of their brand (logos, colors, messaging), which helps the marketplace identify the “genuine” brand from imitators and improve overall brand recognition.
Your Brand Guide is a “Living Document.” Your brand message and visuals should be consistent, but not necessarily static. As your business grows and evolves with new technology, new products, or new audiences, it is important to keep your brand guide up-to-date and communicate the changes.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
Everyone in your company should understand the importance of consistent branding and utilize the brand correctly – the right shade of blue, the right tagline, the right font, and the right sized logo for the project – because branding is all about details. If you have a new intern, or your Marketing Manager is out of the office, having established guidelines can help you ensure consistency. Ultimately, a brand guide can help reduce confusion and inconsistency, saving time and money.
Sikich LLP is a leading professional services firm specializing in accounting, advisory, technology and managed services. Founded in 1982, Sikich now ranks as the country’s 28th largest Certified Public Accounting firm and is among the top 10 of all enterprise resource planning solution partners in the country. From corporations and not-for-profits to state and local governments, we help our clients reach their long-term, strategic goals through a unique formula of products and services. Visit our website to discover how you can elevate performance in your organization.Learn more