One of the things I most often turned to in my journalism career was a stylebook. These stylebooks act as a guide for writers and editors so their usage of language is consistent from story to story. The Associated Press guide is generally considered the standard.
They cover everything from what job titles get capitalized — sorry, realtors, you’re not one of them! — to how to abbreviate Montana.
Branding guidelines are their counterpart in the marketing sphere, but they cover so much more than just language. Also referred to as brand rules or style guides, branding guidelines are most critical in determining how a company’s image is represented visually and graphically.
Consistency is key
Coles Marketing Vice President, Creative Tim Coulon said branding guidelines act as safeguards so best practices are always followed when a company’s logo, imagery or other visual element is shared with the public.
“Branding guidelines ensure a brand’s image is protected and portrayed consistently across all platforms — Web, brochures, print advertising, e-communications, billboards and other collateral,” he said.
A brand style guide gives clear directions for how things should look and how they should be created.
Branding guidelines can vary from just a page or two showing the company’s logo and acceptable palette of colors, to entire books laying out what language can be used in any sort of outreach to the marketplace and target audiences.
Here are a few essential components for a brand style guide:
- Logo – size and placement
- Web-specific elements
Other items commonly addressed include the company boilerplate, how to label subsidiary entities, typography to be used in additional circumstances, letterhead, PowerPoint presentations, social media guidelines and even how to compose a voicemail message.
Creating a new guideline
When a new company is born, or an existing one is undergoing a rebranding effort, it’s a good policy to draft a new branding guideline with input from all key levels of leadership. That way everyone is on the same page regarding messaging and imagery. It’s a way to be proactive and not rely on fixing mistakes after the fact.
“For a small business, it may be as simple as making sure the colors of your logo always come out right,” Coulon said. “Larger companies tend to have more involved branding guidelines, since they often use outside vendors and agencies for their outreach efforts. This way they can ensure brand continuity without having to reinvent the wheel each time.”
And branding guidelines should evolve as the brand does, giving space and freedom for new colors to be established, websites to be redesigned and print materials to be updated.
Need a branding guideline for your company? Coles Marketing has plenty of experience in creating a style guide to fit all your needs.