Just as no two people are truly identical, no two companies are the same. Therefore, no two brands should be alike.
Inspired’s designers focus their work on intentionally helping clients build brands that communicate their unique, authentic stories.
Yet, once a brand has been developed and is ready to be shared with employees, customers and clients, there is one more step that is often overlooked: creating brand standards.
What are Brand Standards?
Though the term can be applied to a wide variety of concepts, brand standards typically include guidelines for elements such as logo design, typography, color schemes and messaging. Brand standards are critical to maximizing the potential of your company’s most important asset for a variety of reasons. Maria Traino, Inspired Studio’s president and creative director, shares a few of these reasons below, as well as what brand standards should include and how Inspired Studio helps customers develop their unique guidelines.
Why is crafting “standards” for a brand so important?
Without brand standards, a brand can quickly and easily get diluted. An inconsistent brand can render a company’s initial investment worthless and make their marketing efforts much harder. And that’s not all… if you’d like to consistently project your brand story, draw in the employees and customers that your brand was made for and keep your company vision unified, brand standards are key. They can even help take your company’s strategic plan to the next level.
Brand standards keep brands authentic and original.
Your brand reflects your company’s unique story, and brand standards can ensure your story always shines through. In fact, standardizing makes the most original elements of your brand stand out. “The more we can amplify minute differences through branding, the more it knocks out the competition,” Maria shares. “Guidelines keep brands strong and prevent them from getting diluted.” Keeping elements like logos and typography consistent also indicates that your brand is stable—a reputation that can help build trust for customers, clients, and even employees.
Brand standards attract and align employees to company goals.
A company’s brand guidelines certainly strengthen its value for the customers or clients it serves; yet, a consistent brand is also critical for potential and current employees. Communicating clear values, for example, can help attract the right candidates for job openings. Elements such as mission statements can also help shape the goals toward which everyone in the company is working. “Employees are a huge part of your business, so it’s important everyone is in alignment with the same core principles,” Maria says. Additionally, brand standards are important for vendors such as designers, videographers, printers, and sign companies—in effect, anyone who touches your brand. Maria explains, “Standards keep you in control of your brand, allowing you to tell your story across the board.”
Brand standards guide decisions in marketing… and beyond!
Whether your company is considering a new media campaign or planning an expansion, brand standards can help direct your decisions. Why? “Brand guidelines are much more than just visuals,” Maria says. “Really understanding your brand—including your company handbook, the mission and vision—allow you to leverage it through every aspect of your company.” Developing a brand is an ongoing process, and one closely tied to how companies evolve over time. Evaluating whether a brand still resonates with its audience can challenge companies to consider whether their products and services still resonate—and, if not, what adjustments should be made. When updating brands themselves, Maria recommends making a change in alignment with a shift in location or another major alteration. Notably, this past year presented numerous challenges to which companies had to adapt, and it may be important to reflect such shifts in branding as well. On the other hand, Maria cautions against changing your brand if it would do more harm than good for your company. “If you have been in business enough years, rebranding may make customers and clients think bigger changes are happening within the company they know and love,” Maria says. In all cases, weighing the benefits and risks of rebranding is critical—and the Inspired team is happy to help new and current clients assess where they stand! Take the first step to building a better brand at understandyourbrand.today.
By now, perhaps you’re convinced that brand standards are important–for your customers and clients, for employees, and for you, to take control of your company’s unique story when shared across platforms. The question remains…
What should your brand standards look like?
The answer depends on your company’s brand and the unique story it tells. Inspired is dedicated to helping clients develop their unique brand stories, a process which takes place through a mixture of consultation and coaching. “The answers are inside every CEO or entrepreneur, and it’s a matter of getting to the bottom of it,” Maria says. Through collaboration, Inspired helps clients develop their “why,” their niche, their ideal audience, and their unique business personality and intended impact of their brand. These factors in turn drive graphic design, marketing, and messaging decisions. And because brands are so unique to their clients, many of the details are proprietary and confidential.
Still, there are a few “must-have” items in typical brand guidelines, as well as many more that can be included if they fit the needs of your brand:
Guidelines typically include a primary logo design, as well as rules for usage and clear space. Optionally, guidelines for secondary logo design and iconography can be added.
Guidelines for print typefaces, font sizes and families are almost always included, while font hierarchies and web standards can be incorporated as well.
Primary and secondary color palettes are included in brand guidelines, including CMYK, PMS, RGB, Hex breakdowns.
Other optional elements may include:
- Stationery Package Design*
- Collateral Design Templates*
- Email signatures*
- Tone of Voice*
- Illustration style*
- Photography Style*
- Audiences/Buyer Personas*
Developing brand standards can keep your company’s brand consistent for clients and customers, unite employees and vendors, and allow you to maintain control of your company’s story. Inspired is committed to helping clients through every step of the process.
We never work for our clients, we work with them.
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