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Why Brand Guidelines Are Essential

by belay April 01, 2022
brand guidelines for DCI Specialty Contracting

When you think of memorable brands, what you are REMEMBERING is a direct result of BRAND CONSISTENCY. Brands that present themselves in the same manner everywhere they appear gain recognition and trust from their consumers. 

Think about some of the top retail brands and how you can instantly recognize who they are in an ad before seeing their logo…

Target uses a specific red color with strategic whitespace and a literal “target” shape.

Home Depot uses an eye-catching orange, an industrial stamped font and squares and rectangular shapes with prominent angles evoking boxes and crates. 

Best Buy branding features an approachable blue and contrasting yellow, bold easy-to-read fonts and a familiar price-ticket shape. 

All of these elements combine to create the look and feel of these brands, or their “Brand Identity.” The reason why you can recognize their brand anywhere — online, in the store, in a print ad — is because of their well-established brand guidelines. 

Brand Guidelines are the blueprint for your brand.

Brand guidelines define each of the brand’s elements, as well as the rules for how to use those elements or NOT use them. Guidelines can be as simple as one page, or they can be a more detailed multi-page manual, often called a “brand book.” 

Here are the main elements that would typically be in Branding Guidelines:

LOGO

A logo is a small but important part of a brand. In this digital marketing world, one size does not fit all. You need more than one style of your logo to be versatile in various situations.

Primary Logo

This is your go-to, most recognizable logo. It should be used most frequently, whenever space allows. 

Secondary Logo

This is the logo you’ll want to use when the primary logo doesn’t fit or feel right in a certain space. For example, if your primary logo is taking up more vertical real estate, maybe this one is more horizontal. The secondary logo should be cohesive with the rest of your identity and used on an as-needed basis.

Logotype

Essentially “logotype” refers to a logo where the typography stands alone on its own. Disney and Google are great examples of famous logotypes. While some brands may use the logotype version as their primary logo, other brands may not have a logotype version at all.

Brand Mark / Icon

A brand mark could be an icon that’s part of the main logo, or it may stand on its own as a totally separate brand element. Brand marks can be used in places where the business name already appears and/or where the full logo would be too large. Nike’s swoosh is a great example of a brand mark that works as a stand-alone element. Areas to utilize a brand mark include your website favicon, social media profile pic, or as a watermark.

Secondary Marks

The secondary mark usually involves the mark and/or other supporting items. For instance adding the date established, location, website, tagline, etc. These marks add an extra layer of depth to the brand, and can be used in creative and fun ways throughout marketing materials including swag.

Logo Design Variations

COLOR PALETTE

Branding Guidelines will define the specific colors that will be used throughout your brand. Think about it… McDonald’s Golden Arches aren’t any yellow; they are a very distinct yellow. Starbucks is a specific shade of green. Branding Guidelines provide codes that pinpoint these specific colors, to make sure your shade of yellow or green are the same in every place your brand is seen. There are many ways specific colors are identified:

PANTONE: A Pantone number helps translate your colors for printers and manufacturers. Yes, the walls of your store can match your branded colors! 

HEX Numbers: Hex numbers, short for hexadecimal, help web developers bring color consistency to your website and other digital platforms. 

CMYK: Your CMYK numbers help printers get the correct color shade on your business cards, stationery, posters, wall graphics, and more. 

RGB: RGB color numbers translate your colors into the digital world including online ads, social media, and website graphics.

brand colors

PRIMARY TYPEFACES

Typefaces and fonts add to the personality of your brand. The options are endless, however brands will typically have two to three established fonts:

A primary font: The default typeface which communicates your brand’s identity, values and personality.

A secondary font: A typeface that complements the primary font and supports the typographic design system.

A tertiary font: A font your brand uses for accents.

Each of these fonts has a specific purpose and plays a specific role in the hierarchy of your brand.

typeface usage guidelines

PATTERNS

Patterns bring additional flair to your branding. They add to the visual appeal of your brand with a little panache: fancy fleur de lis, solid chevron or even a pattern created from your brand mark. There are many ways to spice up your branding with patterns! 

Brand mark as a pattern

PHOTO USAGE & STYLES

With today’s image-based marketing, imagery guidelines can be a valuable element in your branding guidelines. Perhaps your brand will only utilize black and white photography. Or, you want a specific muted filter on images before posting on social media. Or, maybe you have requirements for a border or corner accent. Some businesses won’t necessarily need this much detail in their guidelines, but if your brand has many hands involved, it could be worth investing in the specifics now to ensure consistency as you grow. 


DO’S & DON’TS

Brand Guidelines can also specify specific rules on how to use the brand. For example, one rule might be “don’t distort the logo” or “colors in the logo are not interchangeable.” Defining these in your guidelines might seem extreme, but if you have a growth trajectory or a large team, it’s better to be specific about how you want your brand to be showcased than have someone else decide for you.


SAMPLES OF IMPLEMENTATION

Sometimes people need to see what you are talking about! Branding Guidelines can include examples of the brand in use, letting everyone see the bigger picture and the multitude of possibilities.

Now, take a moment to think of YOUR branding and all of the places it appears. Is it consistent? Is it recognizable? Do the elements help convey the personality of your brand and the experience you are offering your clients or customers? 

If not, it’s time to invest in your business and pull together a professional brand identity with specific guidelines. It will help you grow your brand’s credibility as you consistently meet your clients’ expectations. 

If you need help building your brand, our experts can help. Contact us today.

Also be sure to follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Alignable.

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