Why you need a Brand Standards Manual
You have had a professional branding studio develop your brand platform, graphic elements, helped you articulate your messaging and developed processes for streamlined communication…now what?
Now that you’re business is moving along at a nice pace, you need an ad sent to your local newspaper. You decide to delegate the small task to your receptionist. A few hours later, you receive the ad on your desk…except the logo is the wrong green and the font for the headlines is not the correct one. You decide there is no time for adjustments, so you submit the ad anyway.
The following week you ask your marketing team to create a series of ads for the next newspaper publishing — they will do a better job on this you think.
This time your ads come back and you notice they have added a drop-shadow to the logo, stretched it, and decided that a big orange dog would look cute in the ad, even though your company sells sports equipment…
Without having your designer develop a Brand Standards Manual, it’s common to see
- Inappropriate or indiscriminate use of your brand, its logo and tag line,
- Improper colour use, positioning of the logo, and spacing,
- Careless handling of the brand causing confusion and an unprofessional appearance,
- Discrepancies in brand elements – no cohesion or harmony in presenting the various elements into a unifying whole,
- Inconsistent messages that can result in poor sales.
A Brand Standards Manual is important in making sure the integrity of your brand is maintained. The Brand Standards Manual ensures a uniform visual identity that causes customers to immediately recognize a communication by your company.
The Brand Manual is designed to allow your staff the flexibility to choose a layout and content that is right for the particular communication, while still maintaining a relation to the overall brand identity. Basically the Brand Manual is a document or manual designed to outline the do’s and don’ts of the brand identity, across a wide range of applications.
By having your Branding Studio develop a Brand Standards Manual for you, you can expect
- To enhance marketing and sales efforts, so that effective use of the brand logo, design and expression generate a positive impact,
- To avoid physical distortions and deviations from the true design, personality and character of your brand,
- To remind people that behind the brand is a company that invites trust and confidence.
Often companies hire third parties to develop specific Brand collateral — Advertisers, design agencies, photographers and printers are put to the task of executing the company’s image, its message and its core competencies. But there’s a strong chance that they do not fully understand the brand. What happens? A glaring lack of respect for what the brand stands for – and sheer ignorance of the company’s vision.
A Brand Standards Manual should contain
- A brand description and what it stands for. The brand’s description should run parallel with the personality, values + mission of the company,
- Examples of situations that the logo and its graphic elements can be used and cannot be used,
- Logo rules: ways it should and should not be displayed, abbreviated and long versions of your logo and restrictions regarding the space surrounding it,
- Tone and use of words relating to the brand,
- Specific colours, sizes, fonts, grids, accents, inclusion of trademark, photography + illustration styles,
- Typographical elements,
- Reproduction guidelines (for advertising agencies and printers).
Your investment in a Brand Standards Manual is invaluable, as it will assist your future success. Albeit, the Brand Manual will be for nothing if the rules in the standards manual are not respected. The Brand Manual should express values and philosophies that are endorsed by the highest levels of your organization’s leadership. Additionally, the standards must be well understood by all members of the organization at every level, and understood by other stakeholders such as suppliers and partner organizations. Any uses outside of the brand guide will be effectively watering down your visual style, and will devalue all the investment in the brand’s visual style.
You may encounter those working on your communications to express that Brand Standards Manual causes too much creative restriction. An effective brand guide will limit the applications of your logo and typefaces. It will limit the applications to the BEST uses. Any uses outside of the brand guide will be effectively watering down your visual style, and will devalue all the investment in the brand’s visual style. This is a valuable asset you must preserve by following a few simple rules.