5 Key Uses For Your Brand Guidelines You Shouldn’t Ignore

On any given day in your business you’re dealing with a whole range of tasks – from creating content for social media to touching up your blog.  Simple jobs end up being a huge effort if you can’t decide:

  • What to publish
  • What pictures to use
  • Which colours would fit
  • Or even the right typography…

On top of everything, your brand might have a really attractive design, but your designer has given you brand guidelines that are gathering dust in a corner of your desk.

Brand guidelines are a key tool and the guiding light for every entrepreneur in establishing their visual identity.  Do you know how many uses they have?

Do you know all the ways to use your brand guidelines?

1. Quick access to the brand’s visual concept and message

Brand guidelines put at your fingertips all those little gems of your personal brand it took you so much effort to polish, like your message, visual concept, and target audience.

They save you having to pore over your notes and emails every time you want to create something for your brand!

Brand guidelines should be able to answer questions like: What’s my target audience? What do I really want to communicate? Which visual style should I follow?  How do I want my audience to feel?  How can I innovate without losing track of my brand’s identity?

Think of the guidelines as direct access to all the tools that will allow you to communicate, and give you direct access to the sensory and visual universe of your personal brand quickly: they make sure you understand the tone and style of your brand.

With this roadmap, you’ll know which images to use, how to communicate your message, and how to stand out from the crowd.

2. Create coherent visual content for every platform

Once you get to grips with your visual and sensory mood using brand guidelines, every creative task becomes that much easier.

The guidelines are where you’ll find your brand’s rules of engagement to make content for social media, your website, ads, and more.

If you’re struggling to create content that feels consistent, making use of brand guidelines could be key:

Do you spend hours making content for social media, but it never feels interconnected?  Or maybe you’re spending hours editing one publication only to have to repeat the process (exhaustingly!) for other media.  And in the end, the algorithm doesn’t reward all that effort and dedication you put in.

Keeping colours and typographies consistent can end up being a constant challenge.

Brand guidelines will show you how to use these, but beyond that, it helps you simplify and get straight to the point.  They’ll also help you understand how to use your logo and structure information.

Right now, on social media we need to have something extra that sharpens up our content and makes it look professional and attractive.

When you know which colours and typographies are right, everything you publish will be visually coherent with your brand identity.  And your followers will be able to recognise it straight away.

3. Keeping your brand image consistent but fresh

Once you’ve drawn up a map of your brand’s universe (i.e. what you’re going to communicate), and sorted out the rules of the game (i.e. how you’re going to make sure your brand is coherent), you can move on to how you’re going to incorporate fresh and innovative elements (and break your rules) to make sure it doesn’t get repetitive.  That’s vital in keeping your audience focused and interested in your content.

The brand’s consistency is crucial to build your own visual universe, but at the same time, it’s important to leave space for innovation.

The brand guidelines can give you clear indications of which elements are ‘constants’ in everything you produce, and which are ‘variables’, allowing you to have a fresh image without compromising on the brand’s central identity.

The brand guidelines can help you identify these spaces within the brand, and bring in fresh, creative touches, helping things stay up to date without having to redesign the brand identity completely when you feel like you’ve exhausted all your resources.

For instance, one ‘constant’ could be the two main typographies of the brand, and a ‘variable’ could be a handmade typography for highlights or quotes.

Another variable might be photos inside a constant frame.

4. Helping you collaborate with others

Sending a file to a printer, or starting work with a community manager or a new designer, can be a headache without brand guidelines.

The fourth key use of the guidelines is to make external collaboration easier, meaning the brand guidelines should speak for you, saving you lots of time on explanations and email exchanges.

The guidelines are a reference tool for every professional collaborating with your brand, giving them a clear guide to visual and stylistic elements.

The more detailed and precise the guidelines are, the less margin for error there will be in using your brand on new platforms and media.  They’ll also let you work out how much space you want to leave other professionals for innovation and creativity, how far they need to respect the brand to keep it recognisable, and where you can allow new contributions.

As well as saving you time, this also lets your collaborators make the most of the time they give to your brand’s project, they’ll be more specific on the time commitment they quote you for a job, and the whole process will be simplified.

And believe me when I say it makes a huge difference working with clients who have their own brand guidelines, since it offers a crystal clear reference point for every communication, and answers technical or conceptual questions that often aren’t taken into account in creative work.

5. Feeling the connection between message and visual identity

Last but not least, brand guidelines show how visual identity reinforces and responds to the brand’s message and concept.

We can think of the message as the what, and the visual concept as the how, of what we’re communicating.  So the visual concept should come from the design universe as expressed in the brand guidelines.  The visual concept and message make sure the brand keeps growing and evolving: they’re the pillars that hold up your visual identity.

Brand guidelines make that connection clear and help us understand the brand beyond the purely visual: seeing it from a sensory and emotional perspective.  What do your brand’s colours evoke?  What about the images or elements?

Ultimately, guidelines allow you to have an image and design consistent with the message you want to communicate to your audience: what you’re saying is reinforced visually, allowing your brand’s values and message to be seen through images.

Learn to use your brand guidelines

The importance of using brand guidelines ultimately comes from their ability to offer a clear and consistent guide to developing your brand’s visual identity.

But maybe you have brand guidelines you’re not using or don’t know how to use.  If so, I’d urge you to dust them off and put them to work the way they deserve: making your brand shine!

If you have brand guidelines and aren’t sure how to use them, I’ll be delighted to help you: Get in touch!

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