What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when I say –
‘Open Happiness!’ ‘Just do it’ or ‘I’m loving it!’
If your answers were Coke, Nike, and McDonald’s you’ve just experienced the power of branding first-hand.
The greatest businesses in the world are those that have managed to convey their core values to their customers, repeatedly – through their products, their logos, their website design, through literally everything.
And this success is not accidental. It is the result of strategic brand design based on brand guidelines that encompass the core values of the company.
Building a business is one thing, building a brand is a whole different ball game. But all businesses agree that to build a brand you first need strong brand guidelines. Since these guidelines play an essential role in positioning your brand for generations, following them perfectly can help you create a design that reflects the soul of your brand.
To make sure that you get the brand guidelines right, you should first know what they are and why they matter.
So let’s dive in.
What is a Brand Guideline?
Simply put – Brand Guidelines are structures that give you a clear idea of the tone, voice, colors, typography, and messaging of your brand, which helps create consistency in the brand’s persona.
It is a well-crafted script that everyone in the business can refer to, for pointers on how to represent the brand in a better way, from sales and marketing, to design and production. A common touchpoint for all your departments, so they’re all on the same page!
Why do Brand Guidelines Matter?
Brand guidelines are considered essential because they help communicate the brand identity and brand assets to not only your internal and external stakeholders but also to your audience.
Seth Godin defines a brand as – the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
If you are starting a new company or rebranding it, brand guidelines help you convey the exact perspective of your business to the world.
This is all good and great from a philosophical perspective. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the subject and see how brand guidelines can help create value for your business at the grass-root level.
4 Ways in which Brand Guidelines Add Value to Your Business
We’ve seen how the brand guideline is a succinct summary of all the core values that define your brand. Here’s how they also add value to your business.
1. Brand guidelines boost user recognition
When you follow the structure of your brand guidelines, there is a consistency in all your marketing collaterals, which results in an increased recognition in the market.
Of course, like Rome, building a brand is not the work of a day, but sticking to the brand guideline is a surefire way of laying a strong foundation.
Some of the most recognizable brands in the market today, such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix have gained recognition over the years because they have consistently followed their brand guidelines.
For example, take a look at Animal Planet. The channel's brand guideline is to portray “emotional connections” with its commentary in the TV show. Now, color palettes and tones are an important part of branding, as they are the principal means of converting emotions in a visual format. Based on the principles of color psychology, Animal Planet’s color palette includes the rich and wonderful colors from the animal kingdom, as they convey the diversity of the natural world.
Another example is Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign that has been running successfully for years now. One of the instances of the brand pivoted towards a younger generation was its campaign in Mexico. The popularity of Coca-Cola was decreasing among the Mexican Millennials, so the company wanted to adapt it towards a younger audience.
The campaign was directed towards reaching 22 million Mexican millennials who were not only tech-savvy but also who had limited access to Wi-Fi. Coca-Cola created a campaign specifically for the Mexican audience, where YouTube is one of the highly used music streaming services, and then developed contextual content, which reminded Mexicans to share a coke with their friends.
The campaign included that anybody who typed in Bruno Mars music on YouTube, they could “Share a Coke” with him.
These two examples demonstrate how branding can create user recognition and top-of-the-mind recall amongst customers, by tapping into people’s emotions.
2. Brand guidelines help maintain uniformity
The role of marketing materials like websites, social media or print/digital material is to ensure that your customers connect with your brand across as many platforms as possible. With such a wide scope, it is very probable that your tone and messaging may vary across the said platforms.
Here, having brand guidelines helps you create a uniform brand identity. (#newtermalert)
Brand identity is essentially what sets your company apart from dozens of other similar businesses in your industry.
There are hundreds of tangible and intangible elements that make up your brand.
Brand identity is the completed jigsaw of these puzzle pieces so that your audience can perceive your brand in its entirety.
When you incorporate clear and precise ideas and regulations in your brand guideline, there is a strong and uniform build of brand identity so that your business is recognized globally. Setting out the tiny, consequential details is the crux of nailing your brand identity.
The role a brand guideline plays here is – it helps you evolve your brand identity without straying away from your core brand values.
Consider Netflix. It started as a DVD-service-provider offering 100,000 DVDs, evolved into a streaming service, and is now a production company launching its original television series. However, throughout this journey, they have stayed true to their fundamental principle of “movie enjoyment made easy”.
Whether it be yesterday’s friends sitting on the couch enjoying a rented DVD of Die Hard or today’s millennials lounging in a hammock watching the latest season of Money Heist, their service has remained impeccably in line with Netflix's brand guideline of bringing the premium cinematic feel right into your home.
3. Brand guidelines add clarity
Over time, as your business grows and expands, as you introduce new products and services, you are in flux. Caught up in the frenzy of creation, you might not find the time to pay attention to branding all the time.
This is when your brand guideline is worth its weight in creative gold.
Since you already have clear rules and regulations structured out, you can quickly understand what design elements you need to incorporate in your new product and hence maintain uniformity throughout your entire brand offerings.
With brand guidelines, you have laser-sharp clarity about your core business principles and your customer’s expectations and can hence create all marketing collaterals with consistent branding.
Furthermore, as your brand adapts to the changing lives of your customers, the brand guidelines also evolve to be more in tune with the changing consumption patterns.
With absolute clarity about the purpose of their brand, companies can stand true to their values and apart from the rest.
To see how brands and brand guidelines evolve with current events, let’s analyze the impact of the recent coronavirus pandemic on branding.impact of the recent coronavirus pandemic on branding. COVID-19 has played a huge part in the change of present customer behavior where, because of the implementation of the lockdown, almost all of the customers have resorted to purchasing on the digital space. Even post the pandemic, it is uncertain if this change in consumer behavior will remain permanent.
Hence, all the best brands are coming up with innovative ways to merge their online and offline modes seamlessly, to ensure that customers have an unhindered experience while interacting with the brand. In addition, they are also incorporating the elements of safety, social distancing, and health-consciousness into their brand guidelines to boost the feelings of trust and security amongst their patrons.
3. Brand guidelines add value to your brand
The trinity of clarity, consistency, and uniformity thanks to your brand guidelines ensures that enormous value is created for your brand, every step of the way.
Effective and consistent messaging with a clear brand guideline communicates the quality of your brand’s products and services to your audience and establishes how your brand is a cut above the rest. Not only does this create brand value but it also helps increase customer loyalty as there is consistent delivery of the best quality to the customers.
Take the example of Virgin Media. Virgin Media is known for its bold and edgy branding style evident in its unique and colorful depiction of their 6 brand values i.e., Heartfelt Service, Insatiable Curiosity, Red Hot, Delightfully Boo! Surprising, Straight Up, and Smart Disruption.
With peppy, intriguing phrases that highlight each of these values independently, they achieve two things simultaneously
a. They successfully convey their brand values to their audience and
b. They constantly reassure their clients how they are living up to the value they provide
Creating your own brand guideline…
Brand guidelines offer a complete insight on how to ensure that your audience sees your brand the same way that you do.
It acts as a catalyst to drive the point home.
At the outset, it can be daunting to brainstorm and set it down, but chipping through the fluff gradually will give you a solid core brand guideline, which perfectly captures the essence of your brand.
How to do that, i.e., what are the elements of a brand guideline and how to create one for your own business is something we will be sharing soon, so stay tuned for the next part of the blog.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about the brand guidelines in detail when it comes to brands, sub-brands or how brand guidelines differ according to the product, take a look at some of our projects creating the brand identities for unique brands like Rusbury, Karam Dosa, Blue Kone and many more.
Cheers, and see you soon!