Brand guides define the acceptable uses of your logo, color palette, font choices, photography style, and tone of message across all online and offline mediums.
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At its simplest, a brand is the consistency of experiences a customer has with your business.
That isn’t limited to experiences with your product. It’s more expansive than that and captures all experiences with your packaging, advertising, employees, social media, other customers sharing about your business, and much more.
It’s this enduring memory people have with your business that ultimately defines your brand identity. A brand guide offers the principles to keep customer experiences with your business consistent.
Controlling Your Marketing Message
Whether it’s a famous quote that’s endured for centuries, or the “I’m Lovin’ It” slogans of the world, we can all agree words are powerful.
How words are used of course matters in advertising.
What your audience remembers about what you said and how you made them feel is critical to influencing their perception of your business.
More importantly, how consistent you are in the message you convey through all business activities is what defines that lasting memory customers carry with them.
Here at NerdBrand, you’ll hear our Chief Creative Officer, Mitch Gregory, often say:
“Everything you do is an ad.”Mitch’s Axiom #232
Your social media presence is an ad. The user manual included with your product is an ad. How your customer support representatives engage customers is an ad. How your sales associates interact with customers is an ad.
If you struggle to define the consistent experience you want customers to have with your business across all interactions, then how could your customer know what the experience is supposed to look like?
How can they latch onto your business for the long term?
How can they explain your business to friends and family?
If your customers have no clue what experience they should be receiving, can you ever meet their expectations? Maybe by accident, on occasion.
But if your customers have unclear expectations about what your brand stands for and delivers, then you can’t truly offer a quality experience to them — quality being how well your product meets the customer’s expectations.
It’s a brand guide that allows you to control your messaging across your entire organization.
Proper Color Correction
Colors often don’t come out the same for online and offline marketing materials.
If you look closely at some company’s printed materials and compare it to their website colors, you can sometimes see a slight difference in the color shades.
While it might seem trivial to have a slightly different shade of color on some materials, remember that a consistent, enduring experience is what defines a brand.
You’ll never find Coca-Cola, Amazon, Apple, or other major brands deviating from their brand standards on a whim. That’s intentional.
Color is not purely digital and defined first by digital for several reasons. First is device type, technology used (Adobe vs. Sketch), and many other factors.
Colors in digital depend on the device type and screen quality. Print depends on the material, printer, and quality of the ink.
When you print, or take your brand colors outside of digital, you’ll find they often become inconsistent. Even more so if you have multiple vendors or associates managing different materials.
Fortunately, there’s a solution: pantone colors.
Pantone colors are standardized colors properly referenced and replicated exactly.
The Pantone Matching System standardizes 1,114 colors by assigning each color a number and name. By using this system, vendors and employees in different locations can refer to the same color by knowing only the number that identifies it.
This helps manufacturers and others avoid mistakes like color deviation between online and offline materials. As well as between initial design and finished product.
“Pantone is the industry standard,” Michele Outland, creative director of Gather Journal, says. “It’s something that I automatically go to when I need to choose a color. It prints really accurately.”Michele Outland
Gather, which has earned six Society of Publication Designers gold medals as well as a James Beard award (source).
When creating a brand guide, it’s important to include pantone colors as well, so you have a clear point of reference when it comes time to print materials, packaging, or otherwise.
Without proper baselines set on color, you’ll quickly find inconsistency as your organization grows and the number of vendors you use increases.
Proper and Acceptable Logo Representation
Your logo is typically the most enduring and recognizable aspect of your brand. To apply standards of your logo, keeps consistency of color and messaging.
Your brand guide will define the differentiating aspects of your logo, assign appropriate color use and variants (e.g. horizontal and vertical). To establish size requirements on different materials, and more.
Without establishing acceptable use of your logo, you might find a conference host has changed the color for their event materials. Or a packaging company adds the logo at a size too small.
Get Help With Your Brand Guide
Establishing a brand standards guide isn’t costly, but not establishing one certainly can be.
Imagine the cost of printing a few thousand brochures only to have someone point out colors are off. Your fonts aren’t consistent, or the message is simply inconsistent.
Consistency makes a brand, and hopefully these examples are convincing enough.
If you don’t have established brand standards, get in touch. We’ll have our team create a great brand guide for your business.