Any business with a strong brand identity achieves it with a clear set of principles called brand guidelines. It’s a vital part of the marketing process that will give your business a public image that’s instantly recognizable and meaningful. 

In this guide, we’ll be looking at brand guidelines in marketing, including:

  • What are brand guidelines?
  • Why are brand guidelines important?
  • What’s included in brand guidelines?

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines are a clear set of rules that businesses use to direct their public image and business operations

They act as a roadmap to help any employees involved with marketing know exactly what to do and how to go about it. 

Brand guidelines should be written down in a branding guide that employees can refer to at any point. 

Why are brand guidelines important?

Clear guidelines make it easy for you to build a strong brand identity. Doing this takes time, and it needs to be a company-wide effort, so brand guidelines will keep everybody on the same page, allowing you all to build a strong, recognizable brand image. 

These are the specific ways that brand guidelines are useful in marketing:

  • Consistency
  • Marketing tool
  • Less confusion
  • Ensuring high standards 

Consistency

Consistency is the backbone of any marketing campaign. You need to make sure that everything your business does has the same look, feel, and message. All this works together to build a professional image.  

Consistency will help your brand become more recognisable as you grow your business, giving customers a sense of trust and familiarity. Consistency comes into every aspect of your branding, from visual elements like logos and colouring to wording in your copy and slogans. 

Imagine if you came across a McDonald’s with a pink “M”. You’d be instantly confused, you might not trust that it’s an actual McDonald’s. 

Avoid confusion

As we mentioned above, brand guidelines will prevent confusion with customers. They should know exactly who you are by your consistent brand image. 

But brand guidelines also helps prevent confusion among employees. As a business owner, you’ll have a strong idea of your brand’s image, but it’s impossible to expect new employees to have the same level of understanding. 

Brand guidelines will provide new employees with a handy road map to help them adhere to all your brand standards, ensuring consistency and professionalism. 

Marketing tool

Brand guidelines shouldn’t be seen as a restrictive set of rules about what not to do. Instead, they should be seen as a helpful tool that will help direct your marketing team. It will help keep their branding consistent, but it’s also a good starting point. 

When creating something new for a marketing campaign, it’s difficult to start from scratch. With brand guidelines, you’ll never have to. You’ll have a strong set of guidelines and a number of past examples to get you started. 

Instead of trying to create something in isolation, you can look at what your brand wants to say, what you’ve said in the past, and what you can do to strengthen that particular brand image. 

Keeping high standards

Brand guidelines aren’t just about maintaining a certain image, they’re also about maintaining consistently high standards and avoiding mistakes in marketing

This involves everybody in your business, from the senior employees to new hires. If one branch of your business slips in terms of quality, it can damage your entire brand. 

Enforcing strong brand guidelines throughout your business will make sure that everything your produce is at the same high standard. 

What’s included in brand guidelines?

Every company is different, so they’ll probably have different brand guidelines. That said, these are some of the things that should always be considered when creating your brand guidelines:

  • Company values
  • Logos and colours
  • Typography
  • Images
  • Tone of voice
  • Photography
  • Illustration/animation

Values

Your company’s values should be at the centre of your brand guidelines. You should have a strong sense of who you are as a business, and what you stand for. 

Once you know this, you can make decisions in the rest of your branding that supports those values. Before every branding decision, ask yourself, “what does this say about our brand?”

Logos and colours

Brand guidelines should include a breakdown of your logo, including its variations, and how they should be used in branding. 

A lot of companies will have slightly different rules depending on where their logo appears. For example, they might use a stripped-back logo for smaller things like apps or letterheads, so it’s essential that employees know exactly what to use and when. 

As well as the logo, most companies use a specific colour palette for all of their brandings. It’s usually a combination of colours used across all of their media, adding a sense of consistency and professionalism. 

Typography

Typography includes the look and style of any written communication. It would include things like font, font size, paragraph spacing, when to use headings and subheadings, and how to format things like lists. 

Art style

Just like your logos and colouring, any images, illustrations, or animation you use needs to have a similar style and feel. 

For example, you might use doodles to illustrate a point. It’s important that all of the illustrations are drawn in the same style, with similar-looking characters and articulations. Otherwise, it might be jarring for customers. 

Tone of voice

Tone of voice is exactly what it sounds like, but it includes every aspect of your branding, not just wording. Tone of voice should inform any decisions about your company’s visuals, written communication, and business operations. 

Your actual tone of voice is up to you as a company. You could aim to be informal and humorous, gentle and caring, or formal and informative. Whatever you choose, the important part is to maintain that tone of voice across every aspect of your public image. 

Photography

Any photography you use for your branding should also have a similar look and feel. This will help you make decisions about filters, composition, and lighting for a more consistent brand image. 

Think about movies. There’s a reason the whole thing is presented with similar camera angles, filters, and lighting. It reinforces to the viewer that the whole story takes place in the same universe. Otherwise, it would be incredibly distracting. 

Keep your finances consistent with Countingup

Just like brand guidelines, consistency with financial management is essential for long-term success. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 
Find out more here.