5 Benefits of Brand Guidelines

Jade Staiano, InnerVisions ID social media manager and co-founder of Be Authentic Social was talking to us about the importance of brand guidelines in her job so we asked her to write a guest blog about it! Over to Jade… 

When onboarding a new client, I’ll always ask. “Do you have any brand guidelines?”

9 times out of 10 the answer is, “Ummm, I have a logo. Is that what you mean?”

Well, a logo is helpful, but no, that’s just the starting point.

As a social media manager, it’s my job to translate your brand across your social platforms.

I might take some inspiration from your logo, perhaps the beginnings of a colour palette, or an idea of the kind of fonts you might use.

But as your logo is just a small element of your overall visual presence (the “tip of the iceberg” for your brand, as Sapna says), there is a lot that it doesn’t tell me!

Here are FIVE benefits of having clearly defined brand guidelines.

1. Brand Guidelines establish a clear brand look, feel, personality and voice

When I’m creating content for your brand it’s essential for me to adopt your brand look, feel, personality and voice. A logo can’t help me do that.

Is your brand confident? Simple? Traditional? Creative? Pioneering? Warm? Wholesome? Friendly?

Does your brand use humour, emojis, or even – shock! – swear words?

What would your brand never be or do?

Proper brand guidelines help you and your team, designers, web developers, content creators (social media manager, copywriter, etc) produce material that instantly ‘feels’ authentically like you and your business – whether you’re a complete start-up or an established business.

Over time, with brand guidelines in place, your communications become more distinct and recognisable. It’s impossible to do that if your content creators and team aren’t working from the same script (so to speak).

Lucy Barkas of 3WH adds, “Before I had (guidelines) I had a right hotchpotch approach with different colours, fonts, imagery. It looked basic, disorganised and not like a brand. Now it’s easy. Clients recognise my posts when I publish an image, so I am recognisable. I didn’t know the value until I had them.”

2. Brand Guidelines take the guesswork out of asset creation

Using brand guidelines consistently means no more guessing. ‘fudging it’ or relying on memory.

Are you guilty of any of these brand no-nos?

  • Judging a colour ‘by eye’ instead of using the right colour specifications across print and online.
  • Using different fonts or not being able to remember which font you used last time.
  • Creating graphics with different styles of illustrations each time or not knowing what you images you should be using (e.g. tabloid-style cartoon and stylised illustration).
  • Reposting inspirational quotes without putting the quote into brand-style first
  • Having your different platforms, booking systems and forms all with different typestyles and colours?

All of this can be avoided with the use of clear brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines produced for Walpole Partnership

Caterina Kostoula, of The Leaderpath, and a client of ours says. “I love (my brand guidelines) – they help me especially with the choice of imagery. Before I had no strategy or consistency with the stock photos I used. Now, I know I use conceptual images, usually minimalistic with metaphors. My brand guidelines have sample images that help designers get the look and feel I am looking for.”

3. Brand Guidelines save you time, money and make outsourcing possible

As your business grows you might outsource things like social media, blog writing, design. Or perhaps you take on an employee and they start creating PowerPoints, and other marketing assets.  You might know your brand like the back of your hand but how do you communicate that to someone else?

You may think using words such as “natural”, “luxury” or “modern” mean the same thing to everyone. But your idea of a “modern” will be coloured by your experience and perspective, whilst your designer’s idea of the same, will be coloured by theirs.

For example, I had a client that said they wanted “bright colours, with lots of energy” for their product launch. I provided them with some wonderful images which I thought met the brief…but they didn’t like them! They had a very specific idea *in their head* but because it wasn’t on paper, and they didn’t have examples, it took a lot of time, frustration and back and forth to get it right.

Examples of brand imagery in your brand guidelines alongside tone of voice, brand elements, etc will save so much time and money – and your content creators will thank you for it!

Lucy Barkas agrees, “If I use someone to build a marketing asset, I just send over the brand guidelines, and it saves time, money and frustration.”

4. You look instantly more attractive than your competitors

First impressions count. Your ideal client needs to know you’re professional, consistent and confident and a safe bet.

Imagine how off-putting it might be if they check you out on LinkedIn, your website, your Insta – and they all look different? They might not be sure you’re the same company – or worse, if you present yourself as inconsistent it implies inconsistency in other parts of your business. If they lose trust or confidence, they’ll look elsewhere.

Lucy Barkas of 3WH adds, “Before I had (guidelines) I had a right hotchpotch approach with different colours, fonts, imagery. It looks basic, disorganised and not like a brand. Now it’s easy. Clients recognise my posts when I publish an image, so I am recognisable. I didn’t know the value until I had them.”

Justin Woods of Roadmap Heroes, (also a client of ours!) says “For me, there is absolutely nothing more important to me than my brand. I am my brand because my brand is me. (My brand guidelines) define how I show up visually, on video, in written form, on customer calls, through training and consulting, social media channels and, most importantly, how (the brand) thinks and feels. My logo, colours, fonts, styling, and tone of voice all came together because they originated from my brand and not the other way round. 

“I soft-launched my brand last year and it just unlocked so much for my business and the way I feel. Even better, my clients and prospects love it too. I think this shows how fundamental and powerful branding is and why it should be the very first thing you define in your business. Without it, nothing feels consistent or cohesive. With it, everything else just beautifully falls into place!”

5. Limiting choice makes creating content so much easier!

This is a big one and often overlooked. Brand guidelines limit the colours, fonts, styles that you use when creating graphics but also what kinds of content you want to share.

I’ve worked with InnerVisions ID for 4 years, and our clear-cut brand values and tone help me make quick, strategic decisions about what content to create and share, and what not to.

InnerVisions ID is a positive, we’re glass half-full brand, positive and want to inspire people with their brands. So, for example, I know not to use headlines like “Why your branding is rubbish!”

We love conversations on brand and business, but Sapna is also huge on sustainability and business as a force for good, so that has influenced content we will – and won’t – put out too.

Clear brand guidelines create strong, consistent content which prevents you from diluting your brand values.

If you need help defining your brand values, or developing solid brand guidelines as you build and scale your business, then book a call with Sapna Pieroux

And if you’d like more social media tips then connect with me, Jade Staiano, on LinkedIn.