Brand Guides 101: Creating a Cohesive Brand Strategy
If you’ve ever visited a company’s website because you were given a business card or brochure and found yourself wondering if it was the wrong site, it was probably the result of bad branding. Nothing screams unprofessional like a brand without unity.
One of the most important things to consider when creating a company’s identity is how all the different pieces will fit together. Simply putting the company logo on everything just doesn’t cut it. This is why most successful brands have a style guide, or set of rules to be followed whenever the brand is referenced.
The size of the company often determines how much information and how many regulations are included in the branding guide. A smaller company may only feel the need to have one or two versions of their logo, while a large company will have many versions and regulations about how and when each can and can not be displayed, because it will be used in a number of different places. For instance, at Roundpeg, the horizontal logo we use on our site is different than the more square “rp” we use for social media since social media avatars are typically portrait style or square and normally viewed at much smaller sizes.
Along with the logo, most brand guides include typefaces, color palettes and other graphic features. Having specific instructions regarding these elements helps maintain consistency across many different outlets, and allows future design work to be more efficient and on brand.
For instance, if a small business hires a designer to create a new advertisement for them, sending over a style guide will help steer the designer, who may not have experience with that particular brand, in the right direction. Then, they will be more likely to represent the company in the most successful way.
No matter the size or budget of your company, if you set some guidelines right from the start, you will encourage consistency within the brand. This consistency will help create customer loyalty and your brand will seem much more organized and professional in the long run.
If you’re interested in seeing a simple brand guide, you can download a PDF from foursquare here. This is a great example because not only does it provide useful information and explanations for each section, but it is also really user friendly and easy to understand.