November 9, 2022 | Samuel Chapman
Launching a brand with a large or remote creative team can be a bit of a roller coaster. The team dives in full of ideas and excitement for delivering assets. But soon, things get muddled. The creative direction isn’t clear, iteration becomes frustrating, and timelines start dragging. Building concepts, exchanging ideas, and deciding on your core brand components should be exciting, not disheartening. It can be, however, with the help of strong, well-constructed brand guidelines.
Creating comprehensive brand guidelines up front helps everyone deliver a quality branding initiative. Plus, you can do it quickly without backtracking to fix consistency issues. Brand consistency pays significant dividends, potentially increasing revenue by 10-20%.
To help you start strong, this article will cover the fundamentals of brand guidelines:
Brand guidelines determine how your brand communicates with its customers. They lay out all the essential elements to deliver your message with continuity and consistency. Brand guidelines ensure that creatives understand the look and feel of the brand.
Brand guidelines dictate the visual brand aesthetic. Here are some common elements of a brand aesthetic:
Brand guidelines also lay out how to communicate the brand narrative. Here are some examples of brand narrative:
Brand guidelines—also called a brand style guide, brand book, or brand manual—make up the playbook used to deliver a unique brand message. This key document outlines the visual and non-visual elements of the brand experience.
A brand guide is a source of truth, laying out the “rules” for brand communicators to follow in creating assets. The following team members will benefit most from using this guidebook:
Brand identity guidelines ensure creative stakeholders are on the same page to deliver carefully curated messaging, visuals, and experiences.
A thorough collection of brand guidelines promotes a strong brand and consistent campaigns. It keeps your team moving in the same direction, shortens the time to market, and improves your core brand elements.
Once guidelines are in place, there are tools to help teams stay compliant and confidently create on-brand experiences. For instance, a digital asset management (DAM) tool with solid brand management features enhances these benefits, which is why when you’re evaluating DAM vendors, it’s important to look for how robust they are.
Here are five key benefits to keep an eye out for to see how DAM software stacks up:
Increases brand consistency: When every creative stakeholder has access to the most up-to-date brand guidelines, the first benefit is better brand cohesion. Likewise, access to compliant materials through a DAM makes it easier to deliver compliant results.
Speeds the creative process: Brand guidelines let everyone know what to expect when creating assets. Alignment makes it easier to deliver compliant assets on time. With more compliant assets delivered faster, products enter the market ahead of competitors. Building these elements within a modern DAM platform further speeds the process with automated approvals, dynamic search, and digital rights management (DRM) features to ensure compliant asset use.
Increases market recognition: Visual cues are powerful motivators for customer behavior. Consistent branding helps customers recognize and select your brand more easily in a crowded market. Effective and consistent use of color, logos, typography, and on-brand imagery make brand association stronger and more effective.
Conveys brand personality: Strong branding guidelines give brand storytellers the structure they need to craft the ideal brand identity. With intention, storytellers convey the right tone and personality to engage the target audience.
Drives engagement: A brand with strong recognition and personality are more likely to encourage engagement from users on social media and other digital platforms. This engagement improves brand reach, new customer acquisition, and continued customer loyalty.
Bringing together a brand identity requires creativity and a deep understanding of your core brand elements:
Why start with these essentials? Because they’re the most humanizing elements of your brand. Communicating the company’s mission or “why,” sharing its vision for the future, and sharing the values used to conduct business will drive connection with audiences. And that connection is more important than ever, with 77% of consumers electing to buy from brands that share their values.
Sharing those elements with a brand personality that matches your target audience heightens the brand connection. By designing from these building blocks, you increase opportunities to connect with your ideal customers.
Once the ethos of the brand is in place, creative teams begin the branding process.
Compile a portfolio or mood board to gain inspiration for the visual aspects of the brand. Use clips of photos, videos, fonts, icon sets, and other visuals to beat blank page syndrome and discover what you like (and don’t) for your overall brand aesthetic.
Then, use your core brand elements to inform your selection process. What does your intended audience want? What imagery and experiences excite them?
Finally, use your understanding of the buyer persona to build visual references. You may also take inspiration from brands you admire or brands with a similar product or branding style.
Collect these preliminary assets into a collaborative workspace to help stakeholders work on concepts, share ideas, and decide on a direction.
While each brand is different, every successful brand has six distinct elements to its branding:
All logo presentations should adhere to the structure and rulebook of the main logo.
Your brand guide determines the course of your marketing and messaging assets. Determine what elements of messaging your brand guide should cover. Here are a few categories of assets to consider:
Defining these parameters will get all creative stakeholders on the same page concerning messaging and continuity across channels. This ensures that all required channels get consistent attention and oversight.
In the past, brand guides were a static resource. Guidelines were laid out in a physical guide or a PDF.
In modern digital marketing, delivering your guidelines to your team with an interactive branding solution like a DAM improves compliance and reduces risk. Using a digital solution also updates stakeholders automatically as brand guidelines and needs change.
A brand guide is a living document. Once your new brand launches in the marketplace, analyze your engagement metrics. Understand how your target audience receives and responds to branding, and use those metrics as a basis for refining messaging, tone, imagery, and content.
Use your available digital assets to grow the brand into new channels, repurpose content for faster delivery, maintain consistency, and inform future rebranding efforts.
While PDF guides were once the standard, the demand for creating an immersive, omnichannel customer experience calls for better technology. Fortunately, DAM technology like Aprimo offers marketers a place to collaborate and create compelling, compliant assets.
Aprimo offers robust brand management and DRM features to align teams and ensure assets are used appropriately. With the power of a digital platform, delivering campaigns is faster and easier.
Here are some of the most helpful functions DAM provides to simplify the creation and management of brand guidelines:
If your organization could benefit from the improved compliance and speed of a digital asset management platform with robust brand guideline capabilities, start your free trial of Aprimo DAM.
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