4 signs your business needs Brand Guidelines

posted on October 11th 2013 in Brand guidelines & Graphic design with 0 Comments

Brand Guidelines document the basics about how your brand should look, sound and be treated in design. We’ve outlined some clear signals for you to assess whether it’s time to invest in some Brand Guidelines to keep your brand in good working order.

Once your business gets to a certain size, lots of people will be using the brand in application (e.g. presentations, advertising, brochures). At a very basic level business size can be a good indicator of the need for guidelines as different people use a brand in so many different ways.

We wanted to give you a few more clues. So here we go, 4 signs your business needs Brand Guidelines:

1. Your logo is crowded

If you’ve spent lots of time and effort on your logo, don’t crowd it. Show it some love. Let it breathe!

Now clearly this mock-up is here to illustrate a point and not our creativity. But we do see this type of thing happen. Letting text creep into a logo’s safe area, or thinking it’s okay to adorn your logo with symbols, icons or the flags of countries you operate in doesn’t look good.

Brand Guidelines the need for a logo safety area

Your logo needs room. You need people to read your advertising, website and brochures and remember who it is that’s talking to them. Crowd your logo with other elements and you detract from this vital task. Arguably Facebook is more famous than Brand Glue, so placing it slap bang next to our logo isn’t helping is it? Even if you ignore the science of what the brain is drawn to it looks awful in terms of design layout.

Brand Guidelines can guide on ‘safe areas’ around your logo so designers and your own people know where they can and can’t place content. You can guide on sizes too so your logo actually gets seen.

2. You’ve got a rainbow colour scheme

Your communications will be using a set of core colours, and invariably secondary colours across all the different design work.

But, people love to play with colour. The temptation to make a headline a new shade to get that extra bit of standout, or just go crazy with the text on the page can be tempting for some.

In most cases this rainbow explosion of ‘creative attention grabbing’ is simply due to people not knowing what colours they should be using, or guessing what’s close. Brand recognition is helped by using a core set of primary and secondary colours. Seeing that shade of green or blue every time helps connect brand and colour in the brain, sometimes without even seeing the brand name.

Brand Guidelines can give a definitive set of colours so everyone knows your precise colour references. You’ll also have a set of colours that work well together, to compliment and contrast, so your message gets across as efficiently as possible.

3. You’ve seen lots of lovely new fonts

We love fonts! But if you’ve seen a massive collection of them pass by your desk in your materials it’s time for a re-think.

Like colour these are hugely important parts of your brand and its recognition. Seeing the same fonts across different materials helps build familiarity. A good set of web and print fonts can really help your design work look consistent. Lots of different fonts in the same item that don’t work together look horrendous. Plus, is there anything worse than seeing 3 different PowerPoint presentations that all look different because of font misuse?

The mess below demonstrates how font and colour have created something that simply doesn’t match up to what Brand Glue do elsewhere, or for that matter the image we want to portray.

Brand Guidelines colour and font consistency

You should think about the personality your fonts portray (the same for colour too). Letting your people go mad with the comic-sans font to add ‘something a bit different’ can spell disaster if you want to look professional and knowledgeable. Brand Guidelines can give your people a selection of fonts that create consistency and work well together, supporting your brand in the process.

4. Your images looks like a raid on iStock and Clip Art

Imagery is vital. Brand guidelines can help set imagery styles so you keep a consistent look and feel. If you look at some of your presentations and promotional materials to see an eclectic mix of real life photos, cartoon figures, cheesy office stock shots of models with bleached white teeth (yes, it’s obvious they’re models), illustrations and Clip Art then it’s time for a review.

See what works with your designer and what you can get hold of cost effectively if you can’t afford photography. You can mix styles, but don’t go mad. Similarly you can find better quality stock photography, and set rules on how these shots can be chosen (e.g.  interesting angles, no generic business people with cheesy to camera smiles, colour only). This starts to create a framework by which your people can pick shots, increase visual quality and have a consistent look.

Conclusions: brand guidelines save time and strengthen the brand

So there you have it. Have a look at some of your work, both public facing and internally focused and see if you’re committing inconsistency crimes. Your brand will strengthen if it’s recognised every time you use it, so think about whether your organisation would benefit from Brand Guidelines that set a few boundaries! They save time too, with arguments over what does and doesn’t look good sorted by simply looking at the rules. Let us know what you think!

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