Imagine trying to drive from Chicago to Miami without GPS, map, or your smartphone for directions. Sure, you'd probably get there eventually just by heading south. But, having some instructions on which roads to take and speed traps to avoid would help you get there a lot faster, with A LOT less fuel and frustration. Luckily, we don't have to worry about not having access to directions, since maps are at the tips of our fingers with a smartphone. Just don't forget your smartphone.
Unfortunately, there are many companies that don't have established brand guidelines, which act as a road map for navigating each brand's unique style and messaging. If you don't feel that your brand needs guidelines, read more about the ways that the lack of guidelines is costing your company money.
Inconsistency causes confusion
Have you ever looked at your brand assets all together in one space? Do all of your digital ads and social media post images use the same colors and the same fonts? Do your brochures display the same logo and tagline? Does your website highlight your value proposition, features, and benefits as they should be listed?
If your answer is no, consider how the lack of consistency impacts your brand. Inconsistency causes confusion. Your audience needs to see or hear your message 7 times in order to remember it. So how will your potential customers remember your ads, if they aren't sure which brand they're seeing? You could be missing out on potential customer conversions because your ads aren't resonating.
Do you ever question which brand is represented in an ad for Apple or Nike? Could it be because of their strict brand guidelines? Maybe.
Wasting leadership time
Does your senior management team still approve all of your marketing assets like brochures and ads? Do they provide unnecessary design direction about the size of the color of this graphic or that call-to-action? This probably isn't the best use of their time. With established brand guidelines, your executives can rest assured that their preferences are being followed in a manner that is consistent with your brand's personality and style.
Unclear direction for marketing partners
Graphic and web designers hired to develop marketing assets and for your brand need guidance to understand what "right" looks like. Maybe your CEO likes bold calls-to-action and the CMO likes lots of white space. It's difficult to know everyone's preferences. So, the likelihood of the designer getting it right the first time around is very slim. Even if you provided an example of all your previous branded material, it may be tough to match or complement them, especially if those assets look inconsistent. If you have to request more than 2 or 3 revisions for projects, this is an indication you're not providing clear direction for your marketing partners. Unless the designer is your niece or nephew, your company will get billed for the additional unplanned edits. But this could all be avoided.
Bottom-line - Brand Guidelines save your company money.
Branding guidelines take the guesswork out of what's right for your brand. They act as guardrails for how to present the company in brand voice and style. Personal preference is removed from the equation. Guidelines provide a roadmap to successful brand assets. Well-established guidelines provide direction for key messaging including the brand's unique value proposition, the exact services your company provides, and the core values of the company. Of course, brand guidelines should also demonstrate how the logo should be displayed, exact Pantone colors, typography, photography, and graphics examples.
Here's an example:
At Harrison Creative Group, our brand guidelines process starts with you. We find out more about what, how, and why you do what you do. This information is used to develop solid messaging and then a style that will be utilized in all of your branded assets, with consistency and fewer revisions.
Are you prepared to save your company time and money in wasted resources to establish your brand's road map? Contact us. We'll be your navigator.
About the author
Stacey Harrison is an experienced B2B, B2C, and healthcare marketer. She leads Harrison Creative Group as the lead creative strategist. Partnering with small, medium, and start-up businesses, she operates as an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer to develop and implement growth marketing strategies that include branding, paid search and social, content marketing, direct TV, social media marketing, email marketing, and public relations and strategic communications.