I know you have heard it before. “That brand looks so Apple-ish,” or “Make it feel more like IKEA.” Why have you heard this? Each of these brands are strong examples of a brand management that at its original root was set forth by Brand Guidelines.

This is not hard to achieve with a little time and effort, and a clean start from rock bottom by accessing your brand and setting forth some very strict, strict, super-strict rules. Your brand is one of your most important assets and by defining your style it forces you to have a cohesive look across all markets.

5 Steps to Brand Guidelines:

#1 What is your brand personality?

If your brand was a person, would they be tall or short? This might sound silly, but turning your brand into a human character makes it easier to say “Yes, he would do that,” or “No, she would never be caught dead in that font.” Which will set the overall tone for all other guidelines.

#2 Don’t break the logo law!

We are often tempted to split things up, move things over, or just stretch the size to make things fit. BIG NO NO. Your logo should always be the most consistent factor of your brand. Lock that baby away and don’t let anyone have the “designing” key.

#3 Do a quick, color glance.

Look quickly at your logo. What do you see? If you get a flash of purple, then by golly your brand color is purple. It is surprisingly simple to define your brand by making a purple flyer, creating an ad with a purple headline, or having a purple webpage background. However, be sure to use this color strategically, and do not over saturate.

#4 If your brand was a typeface, what would it be?

Take a quick reference of your brand, and refer back to #1. A typeface, or font, is easily the most personable aspect of a brand.

Are you a personable, script type?
Are you an industrial, modern sans serif type?
Set this font, and use ONLY this font on all communications. This is one of the hardest rules to set, but in the end, is the easiest way to build brand consistency.

#5 A picture is worth a thousand words.

Why not get your money’s worth by dictating exactly what imagery you broadcast based on your brand needs.
Again, refer back to #1. Are you a big, bold, beautiful color image, or a more subtle less dynamic black and white.
You can tell your customer what to expect with your brand with ONE image if done repeatedly and done correctly.

Keep these guidelines handy.

Put your weight behind these brand guidelines and enforce them. If a new marketing project comes up, pass them along to the designer that way there is no guess work on either end and you are both clear on what to expect.

With a little elbow grease and time to grow your brand you just might become the new Apple.
-- JV