Why every organization (big and small) should have one
Every day, we are constantly exposed to content from dozens if not hundreds of brands. A targeted ad as you scroll through Instagram stories while drinking your morning coffee; a radio ad in the car on your way to the office; emails from companies you’ve purchased from waiting in your inbox when you get to work. Your day has barely started and you’ve already come into contact with (and probably ignored) messages from a wide variety of brands.
Cutting through the clutter can be difficult. Even if you’ve created something memorable, will your audience remember who the message was from? A brand guide helps consistently communicate who your company/organization is, internally and externally. It is a set of rules that helps your audience recognize who the message is from at a glance, using colors, typography and messaging.
Here are the top four reasons to have a brand guide.
1. Consistency (Across All Platforms: Social, Print, Digital Media, Packaging, Etc.)
No matter who is viewing visuals and messaging from your brand, it is consistent across all platforms. From those viewing a powerpoint presentation internally to someone viewing a paid ad on Instagram, it should be clear what organization it is from. Using the same color palette, fonts and messaging voice will help achieve this level of consistency.
2. Cohesive Visual Language
Graphics and photos can elicit an emotional response much quicker than words. Especially because you generally have less than three seconds to grab someone’s attention with an ad. Making sure your organization has clear guidelines surrounding what type of graphics and photos it uses will not only help establish your brand’s tone and style; it will help your audience more quickly recognize who is posting. What kind of graphics does your company use (flat vector style, illustrative, line work, iconography, etc.)? What style of photography does your company use(vivid color, posed, natural light, black and white, studio, etc.)? Giving your designers and photographers a mood board of images as examples that represent your brand will help streamline the creative process.
3. Cohesive Messaging
Your brand’s tone and voice is equally as important as what your brand looks like. Is your messaging casual and conversational, or serious and matter-of-fact? How you talk about your organization, and how you talk about the services you provide, should align with your company’s mission, vision and values. Having these three tenets written out and defined in your brand guide will go a long way in ensuring your messaging is cohesive internally and externally.
4. Avoid Confusion and Provide Tools for Employees
Brand guides provide clear instructions for every level of employee around what makes up your brand. It articulates the who, what, where and why of your organization, giving everyone the same context, and empowers your team to confidently execute communications for a variety of audiences. This way, whether someone is making a client-facing powerpoint or a post for social media, everything stays consistent and your perceived brand value increases.
Your brand identity is more than just your logo and some colors. Making sure your team has the whole picture, so that they can be brand ambassadors for your organization, leads to greater brand recognition from your target audience. It lets your company have its own identifiable personality through imagery and voice that can be spoken and written about consistently. So even if you have an established brand, nailing down these details builds customer recognition, brand loyalty and even helps you be identifiable in the hiring market.