If you read our last post on branding, you’d know that having a brand kit is essential for any business. Now that you’ve got that sorted out – have you heard of brand guidelines?
No matter how in sync your departments are, or how good communication is with a third party, there is always the chance of miscommunication when it comes to your brand, values and how you maintain and create a brand identity.
Brand guidelines, brand standards, brand style guide, brand book… whatever you want to call it, they all do pretty much the same thing.
In order to effectively create guidelines and determine if they’re something you may need, you’ll first need to know what they are and what they accomplish (duh).
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines give you consistency and flexibility. Sound counter-intuitive? It’s actually a very useful asset to have in your arsenal.
They let designers or other third parties know what should and should not be used where it pertains to your company, as well as helping anyone understand how to represent the brand!
Once an individual has gone through the guidelines at least once, they should have more than a basic understanding of what makes your organization unique, what you offer, and what you hope to achieve with your brand.
Elements of Brand Guidelines
There are 5 major components that you need to hit with a brand guideline, and then sub-topics from there:
- Why We Exist/What We Do – Brand Identity, Purpose, Elevator Pitch
- Brand Wheel – Attributes, Benefits, Core Values, Personality, Essence
- Brand Clarity – Is & Isn’t List, Visual and Verbal Tone
- The Look – Visual Elements, Logos, Branding
- Miscellaneous Items – Anything pertinent to the brand that you feel doesn’t fit into any of the above categories!
Why We Exist & What We Do – The Foundation of Your Brand
You really want to sell yourself in this first section! Don’t be afraid to be aspirational or ambitious – this is all about what you offer, what you hope to offer, and how you hope to change/disrupt your industry.
Your brand identity is the basis of everything. It should be succinct and informative, getting right to the point. It expresses what a company or customer may get by doing business with you.
Your purpose is essentially your “why”. Why do you do what you do? Why are you in business? Or simply, why does your business exist? Most brands know what they sell/offer, but few know why they do it. For example, while we sell custom packaging products, that’s not our why. The LeKAC Pack considers the brand identity of LeKAC to be to inspire consumers and clients alike to think outside the box (pardon the pun) and reach for what is deemed ‘unachievable’.
Finally, the elevator pitch brings it all together. These are a few sentences that can be used by any employee to properly tell your brand story. You can have different versions based on who your audience will be, but you should always have at least one elevator pitch available at any time.
The Brand Wheel
Now that we’ve sorted out the more serious bits, we can get into the fun stuff! In case you don’t know what the Brand Wheel is, it’s a 5-part visual aid showcasing the various components of your brand.
Attributes are the outermost layer, which are all things that are obvious about your company. They’re not really bits of information that you choose, they’re just things that are. For example, an attribute of LeKAC is that we are a custom packaging company founded by an engineer!
Moving in, we have benefits, which are the perks of working with the company. What does the consumer gain by doing business with you?
In the middle of the wheel, you’ll find core values! These are more of an internal aspect and not something commonly shared with customers. These are the values that you promote within your company, and answer the question of “what kind of company do we want to be?”
The 4th part of the wheel is all about personality. Not only is this the personality you want your customers to experience, it’s also a quick list of must-haves for anyone joining your team.
Finally, at the core is your essence. This may sound overwhelming but we swear it’s not! At this point, you start seeing how everything comes together and that’s essentially what your brand essence is. Your Why, Your How, Your What.
In this section, you’re going to go through your branding information with a fine tooth comb. The great thing is that you probably already have all this information based on the previous steps. There are two main parts for this section:
The is/isn’t list is exactly what you think it is. It’s a list of attributes that your brand embodies or doesn’t embody.
Your visual and verbal tone will be what fuels your content. This will be completely unique to your brand – whatever you choose is fine, but make sure you are consistent.
The Finished Product.
Everything done up until now were the building blocks of your business. This last part covers the elements that end users will see – the marketing assets.
Typically, this section includes logos, typography, photography, colour palettes, illustrations and icons. Now, this isn’t just a place to slap these elements on and leave them. You should give an explanation of why certain elements were chosen and what it means for your brand.
You can also go deeper and even include colours, fonts etc. that should not be related with your brand! Get as specific as you want to be – this is your brand and you need to ensure it’s exactly how you want it to be represented.
So, Do I Need Guidelines?
It’s all up to you!
Brand kits are essential, but brand guidelines are a lot more in-depth and do take a lot more effort. When you’re starting out, it may not be necessary. But once you’ve got the ball rolling and have your main products/services down to a science, you may want to consider developing your brand guidelines.
Want to do it but don’t have the time? The LeKAC Pack can actually help you with that! We offer many marketing services and can create a custom package that’s right for you and your business!