Are your brand guidelines a bit sh*t?

Brand guidelines come in all shapes and sizes, but creating a document that people are actually going to use takes more than ensuring you’ve got your hex codes correct and your list of Dos and Don’ts nutted.

So, to avoid it just being a box-ticking exercise you produced because you thought you needed to, here’s our top tips for putting together a masterpiece to help your brand…land.

1. Know yourself

Who are you? What do you do? Why should anybody care? If you’re not convinced about your own identity, don’t expect anyone else to be.

Include your mission, values, personality, and USPs and let the guidelines reflect and reinforce this. This is especially true when it comes to the tone of voice you use, so don’t bark orders at people and don’t make it sound like a set of instructions for a washing machine.

2. Keep it simple

Your guidelines must be clear, concise, and easy to understand…thanks Captain Obvious!

Just make sure you use straightforward, friendly language, avoid jargon, pare back the text as much as you can, don’t overload the pages and use visual examples wherever possible to illustrate the points.

3. Do sweat the small stuff

It doesn’t matter how many pages there are, most people using the guidelines will go straight to the part that tells them what colours and fonts to use and the specifics regarding your logo.

So, do everyone a favour and break the guidelines down into modular sections so it’s easy for people to find what they’re looking for quickly.

4. Cater for online and print

Include guidelines for both digital and print media, even if you’ve got no immediate plans to use both channels.

It will save people guessing and then f**king something up when they need to add your logo to some stress balls for a big event.

5. Keep it updated

Brands evolve, and so should your guidelines. So, if you were hoping you’d get away with creating a doc and leaving it at that…tough.

Review the guidelines at least twice a year, updating them as needed, and then communicate updates clearly to your team.  And don’t forget to send them to any third parties who use them too…especially if it’s us.

6. Encourage feedback

Whether you really care what Janet, from the Product team thinks, feedback is good.

So, ask for it regularly, from anyone using the guidelines, and don’t forget to include the contact details of one or two members of your team who will be able to record and follow up on these suggestions if/when they come in.

7. Make it easy

We’re not saying all your colleagues are lazy and looking for shortcuts, but, wherever possible provide ready-made templates, design assets, logo variants and a library of approved images for your teams to use.

And if your fonts are custom, or not readily available via Google or Adobe, make sure you provide details for where to find them.

8. Walk the walk

There’s nothing that makes us want to call the brand police more than a director going rogue with a homemade PowerPoint deck.

So, work with your senior management team to get them onboard and help set the tone for the entire organisation…or don’t, and risk them inadvertently inverting your logo and using Calibri in all documents.

And that’s it. It doesn’t need to take 8 months and a committee of 20 to put together something that’s both useful and usable…and if you can foster a company culture where employees understand the value of a strong brand while you’re at it, you’ll be well on your way.