I want to come clean here … I wrote this sterile, fact-based blog on brand guidelines that not even Kent Earle or Erin’s dad would read. (Hi Kent! Hi Steve!) Admittedly, just awful. It made ChatGPT look like Hemingway.
In reading it I realized that I was violating one of the primary points I was trying to make. Brand guidelines dictate all facets of how the brand is represented. A super smart person (or the internet) might tell you that brand guidelines “govern the composition, design, and general look” of a company’s branding. As a less-than-super-smart person, I would tell you that brand guidelines should also include style guidelines that dictate the tone of voice in which your brand communicates.
Hence the rewrite.
All companies need well-structured, easy-to-follow, and readily applicable brand guidelines. (I’m not even sure what I mean by readily applicable … but please, bear with me). I do know that brands that try to operate without brand guidelines suffer from the same inconsistency as we see from flat earthers.
Remember, consumers tend to be driven by the subconscious. Their decision to try and or stay loyal to what your brand offers can be manipulated in less than obvious ways. Don’t believe me? After you’ve finished this blog and emailed Stephanie that she’s the luckiest woman in the world you can read this article here which reinforces my point.
Both of those things are on the internet, so you know it’s true.
If your brand is represented inconsistently and the tone in which you speak to them varies, consumers will have a hard time identifying with your brand and forming a favorable impression of your company.
WHAT EXACTLY GOES INTO A BRAND GUIDELINE DOCUMENT?
For this, I consulted Jordon and Erin, Steve’s daughter (Hi again Steve!). Both are super smart, just like the internet. They say that an effective brand guideline contains the following:
- Visual Elements (which I think is their fancy way of saying logos, taglines and additional iconography)
- Typefaces & Typography (the fonts you use marketing materials and how you use them)
- Colors (both primary and secondary)
- Dos and Don’ts (proper placement of logos and treatments to maintain visual integrity)
- The brand’s mission statement, tone of voice, and core values
Let’s talk about number 4 here because it’s relevant. Whereas my first version of this blog was factual, optimized, and boring AF … it wasn’t written in our tone of voice which we identify as “a mildly intoxicated smart person on vacation.” If you read our blogs and if you’ve spent any time on our website I’d hope you’d concur.
By the way, I’m sober as a church mouse and I’m on whatever the opposite of vacation is but I still have to communicate accordingly. Why? Because Erin and Jordon said so.
DOES MY BUSINESS NEED BRAND GUIDELINES?
The answer to this is more simple than you might think. If you have a business and that business sells a product, sells a service, pays taxes, or has employees that breathe oxygen, then YES you need to have brand guidelines. Operating a business without them is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. You’ll be OK for a while but ultimately, it will end poorly.
As a full-service digital ad agency in Phoenix, ReThinc Advertising has created brand guidelines for a diverse group of clients that represent a wide array of industries. In some cases we’re inventing a brand for a startup and other times we’re either formalizing or reinventing a brand for an existing business. Some of these clients are B2C (business to consumer) and others are B2B (business to business). Most pay taxes and all of them have employees who breathe oxygen.
Either way, brand guidelines are our jam.