1. Be clear about purpose: for brand guidelines to be effective and usable think carefully about who will be using them and in what contexts. What will they gain by using them and how can you convey these benefits? Don’t forget practicalities either, such as where and how they will be accessed.
2. Openness and inclusion are imperative: make sure key stakeholders have a role to play in initial development.
3. Articulate the big idea that permeates the brand: clearly describe how the guidelines will help communicate this to your brand’s audiences.
4. Live the brand: it’s important that the guidelines themselves reflect the look and feel of the brand design.
5. Explain your thinking upfront: be clear in your introduction why the guidelines have been produced and how following them will assist all involved parties with their work, strengthening the brand in the process.
6. Don’t tell, guide: with brand guidelines it’s best to engage the user without force. Tone of voice is key – short, sweet and simple works best.
7. Be firm but flexible: rules occasionally need to be bent... but never broken! Continuity is important, especially across multiple channels, geographical locations, and so on.
8. Give examples: good brand guidelines feature specific examples for designers to refer to, demonstrating how the brand should look across a number of media channels.
9. Add a ‘don't do’ section: showcasing common areas where things can go wrong.
10. Create an interactive PDF for digital distribution: this should feature as many hyperlinks as possible to improve usability.
11. Use this checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything:
- company values or spirit
- the big idea
- tone of voice
- colours and typography
- graphic devices
- layouts and grids
- overview with examples
- further information
12. More advanced or detailed guidelines might also include:
- digital and web
- cultural or behavioural directions for staff training
13. Keep management in the loop: get approval at every key stage; nothing can go public before this is done.
14. Schedule a review after launch: this will give you a chance to check how they are being adhered to and to address any problems.
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