When your business is just starting out, it’s very easy to stick with designing individual and distinct brand assets for the moment. A growing organization must move at a fast pace, so to launch ideas in a timely manner you might forego consistency in the beginning. However, to set the right tone with your audience and foster brand recognition across channels, it’s critical to develop, implement, and evangelize brand guidelines — at least within your team. Here are 3 big reasons to document the rules of your brand’s voice and appearance.
1) Get practice in living your brand
The brand book is a fantastic test of your brand guidelines. Choosing a voice for your brand and a set of colors, fonts, and icons is a difficult and important process, as any brand manager can attest. Once you take it a step further to document those decisions, you’re put in a position of needing to defend your brand choices to yourself and your team. Why those colors? Why these specific fonts? Why does this group of words resonate with our brand voice, while that group doesn’t?
Documenting your brand guidelines early gives you a unique chance to decide if these decisions are defendable in the right ways and for the right reasons. Make sure to seek input from all the major players at your organization prior to making the final calls, since feedback on your brand decisions is definitely most valuable before the public sees it! These gut checks can ensure that all your decisions speak to your company’s heart.
2) Rally your team around the company
Brand guidelines not only establish a unique and repeatable aesthetic for your company, but also reinforce what your organization stands for. A strong brand will speak to your company’s mission, vision, and values, providing a visual outlet for the message you share with the world. Voice and tone guidelines that support the visual brand will also help to reinforce that unity.
A great set of brand guidelines will both inspire your existing team and excite your new hires. Training recent additions to the team using an established brand book sets a solid precedent for how your company presents itself to the world as well as how it operates internally. Since first impressions count for a lot, make sure your organization’s is strong.
3) Ensure consistency across assets, mediums, and channels
With multiple marketers, content editors, designers, and others each contributing to your branded collateral, universal brand guidelines allow for creativity within the sphere of brand consistency. Earlier we mentioned voice and tone guidelines, and that’s a good example of how to describe this targeted creativity.
Your brand voice should never change across messaging, but your tone may vary depending on the goals or audience of your message. It’s like the difference between talking to a CEO and talking to your teenage cousin — you’re still the one drawing words from your own full vocabulary (that’s your voice), but you’re probably going to change your word choice and level of formality for each conversation (that’s your tone).
This allows different writers to access different tones within your company. As long as they reference the guidelines you put forth for consistent voice and specific tone scenarios, you’ll still put out a unified company personality even with multiple writers.
The same goes for your visual brand — you establish rules to ensure consistency, but with a strong brand your designers, developers, animators, and more can each explore their own creativity without deviating from a unified look and feel.
These are 3 of the top benefits to creating and documenting your organization’s brand guidelines. What other advantages have you seen?