4 Ways How A Brand Guideline Can Organise Your Brand Identity


A brand identity is a set of messages propagated by the brand towards the customers. It shapes how the brand wants to be portrayed. Brands use communication channels such as their name, logo, colour schemes, and so on through multiple platforms. All brands need their own identity to define themselves in the market and be a strong brand of their own.
But with the amount of information that brands send out, either through social media, brochures or advertisements, the many types and formats of communication can cause brands to look and sound disorganized and messy. This is why businesses use a system to organise all the bits and pieces of its brand identity. The key document is a brand guideline, a standard operating procedure for the company’s branding efforts. Spotify has a brand guideline that outlines a detailed standard of how their brand should look like on different applications. Chances are, your brand needs one as well.

Why do brands need a brand guideline?

    1. Creates consistency
      In branding, consistency is everything. Consistency is the foundation of a strong brand identity and it helps in brand recognition. You want to make sure that every time someone visits your website, he gets the same look and feel as when he receives your flyers, buntings, business cards and proposals. With consistency, your brand becomes more familiar.
    2. Increases brand recognition
      Customers will have a better recognition and recall your brand more through consistent brand identity. When a customer sees the same pattern on several occasions, they tend to remember the pattern better. For example, Coca-Cola became a global brand known in the far corners of the world not by chance, but through an intense brand identity standardisation and consistent messaging.

      Image Source: canscollection.eu

      No matter what language Coke markets to, their exact red colour, white ribbon, font typeface and size stay the same. This consistency in using the same brand identity over the years pays off handsomely for Coke, because by now, you don’t even need to understand the language on the can to know that it contains Coke’s fizzy, sugary madness.

    3. Builds an image of professionalism
      Nothing impresses your stakeholders and potential investors more than a strong brand identity backed by a clear brand guideline. With substantial brand recognition, your brand will get the attention of customers and investors alike. You want your brand to be taken seriously, and through consistent brand communications, customers and clients would see your consistent branding as reliable, organised and competent.
    4. Helps your employees
      The brand guideline also serves as a rulebook for every department to follow, so that the same shade of colour and the right logo arrangement is used on all packaging, advertisements, recruitment forms, letterheads, tote bags and corporate gifts, to even internal Whatsapp groups profile picture.

      With a brand guideline, everyone knows how to use your brand properly. Your employees would have a reference for every time they need it, and would help particularly new recruits, contract workers, substitutes or suppliers, eliminating the need for micro-managing or worse, a branding miscommunication.

What you need in a brand guideline

Logo Design & Usage
Your brand guideline should include a full official logo and how should it look like on different applications. This means you should show how the logo looks as a stand-alone icon, with a picture overlay, with and without your wordmark, together with the spacing around the logo (also known as exclusion zone). Often, brand guidelines also show both wrong and right ways to display the logo using multiple examples, which is proven to be helpful and beneficial.

Maserati’s brand guideline with specified right and wrong picture overlay usage.
Source: Maserati Brand Guideline

Typography guidelines include the brand’s font and their families, sizes and their application on multiple channels. Especially so for brands that have a wordmark as their logo, strict rules are stated on the specific font to use, the width and weights and acceptable options for secondary styles.
Colour Palette
A brand guideline would not be complete without a brand colour palette. The guide would set out the accepted colour scheme and list out all the colour codes that can be used in brand communications. This helps different applications such as t-shirts and websites to display the closest brand colours possible.
Imagery & Tone of Voice
Additionally, your brand guideline could include standards for photos and state how these photos should be taken and displayed. The imagery goes hand in hand with your brand’s tone of voice. Some brand guidelines also include tone of voice standards that are applied in their content and overall communication materials.
Creating a brand guideline can help your brand in a lot of ways. Brand recognition does takes time, but with a brand guideline, the process can be expedited. For an example of a detailed brand guide, take a look at IBM’s brand guideline for a conference they hosted in 2010. At Brand360, our brand experts can help you develop a brand guide of your own so your brand identity would be streamlined, organised and effective.