Why your business can’t live without brand guidelines

When staring down your marketing “to-do” list, creating a brand guide might not immediately rank in your top five. We know you have market research to conduct, websites to optimize, leads to cultivate, and content marketing strategy to perfect. The ROI on traditional marketing tasks is far easier to track than the nebulous benefits of a brand style guide and, let’s face it, you’re busy. But did you know that creating brand guidelines is one of the key ingredients of business success? Whether you’re a startup, a small-medium sized business, or a large corporation, you can’t afford to skip creating a comprehensive brand positioning document. Here’s why.

Work less, get recognized more:

In a blind branding test in which consumers were asked to name brands based on their company colors alone, branding powerhouses such as Google and McDonald’s were easily identified at a 100% success rate without their logos. Some logos, such as Coca-Cola and Harvard Business School, are so easily recognized on the global scale that artistic rights to the artwork are estimated in the millions. Each. Clear, consistent branding helps customers recognize your brand using visual cues so that certain symbols, colors, or imagery become synonymous with your products. As these visual cues build positive association between your brand and purchase triggers, your marketing department will need to work less (and spend less) to stay at the top of your customers’ minds. After all, seeing that signature Coca-Cola red is enough to inspire sales at most movie theaters. A brand guide or brand guidelines allow your organization to define what these cues will be and ensure they are consistently featured in marketing collateral.

A brand guide is a shared language:

A comprehensive brand guide also creates a shared language across all marketing channels so your team members can create emails, print ads, event marketing banners, and website content with ease. Having brand guidelines with all the design colors, fonts, tone, and information architecture guideline can reduce editing and churn during the internal production process, and get consistent collateral into market faster so you can – you guessed it – work less and get recognized more. Even the smallest teams will benefit from clear guidelines around when to use certain headlines, how to position text, and where and how a logo may be used. It turns the most tedious elements of design into a straightforward process, so your creative minds can spend less time double checking whether they are using the right shade of blue and more time dreaming up your next ADDY Award-winning campaign. 

Brand positioning within your corporate culture:

Branding is also a translation of your corporate culture. For example, Google executives once admitted they chose the brand’s bold, primary colors because they wanted to build an organization around simplicity. They stripped away any unnecessary visual elements so this simplicity would shine. No frills, just results. Those same colors evoke the playful (sometimes childlike) nature of their corporate headquarters and echo a no frills, results-oriented work culture. The bright red, blue, and yellow of their logo would be as appropriate in a classroom or art studio as they are in the creative, casual work rooms and collaborative spaces inside Google offices. In this way, their branding choices reflect both their business principles and their corporate culture, setting a tone for customers, employees, and investors. Go ahead, ask yourself what your brand guide might say about your culture and what you’re telling your prospective customers or investors every time you release a new ad.

Aid onboarding with brand guidelines:

Having a clear correlation between brand guidelines and corporate culture not only helps external parties understand your unique value proposition, but allows employees to self-select and assimilate to how your organization works with ease. Brand guidelines allow new team members to get to work faster because they understand the expectations around their work, digest the tone you hope to set both in and outside the office, and live your brand’s mission and vision statement rather than just working on it.

Brand guidelines are pivotal for business success because they allow each and every one of your employees to become an expert in your brand positioning. For ideas on how to refine your branding or create your first brand style guide, check out our work for more information on how we’ve helped other companies transform.

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