Brand Guidelines: It’s High Time to Revamp How We Create and Use Them

As a marketer, we all know the brand guidelines. They can usually be found in a PDF located somewhere on the company’s intranet, but to be fair, we are probably not sure where to find them.

It can even appear in a training manual kept under someone’s desk or in an email forgotten in a full inbox.

Companies put an incredible amount of time and effort into using brands and often involve outside agencies to develop the brand’s core material. However, employees somehow only think of the brand guidelines when it comes to the colors or fonts to be used or where to place the logo on the document.

It’s time to reevaluate how we create and use the brand guidelines in our organizations and ensure that we support other teams, such as training, human resources, and products that rely on the guidelines for creating their own content.

Here are three things to consider.

  1. Make sure the video is part of the trademark guidelines

Most of the brand guidelines are still modeled for static printing or digital design. As companies adopt more dynamic media, such as video, we need to adjust our guidelines accordingly.

The content of your branded video must be aligned with all branded material and consistent from video to video.

Think how weird it would be if corporate clients saw a famous entrepreneur’s video that went against the typical entrepreneurial personality. The dissonance can come from the colors used in the video, from the background music, or from the way the company positions itself in the market.

High rates of video engagement can be a blessing for marketers or a curse. A ready-to-use video that loses focus or creates confusion can quickly go viral at a time when ‘what they thought’.

Video content that deviates from the unified brand message disrupts the brand-customer relationship and can undermine the meticulous design of a B2B company.

When creating brand guidelines for videos, the tone of voice in the messages must be conveyed to the script. Also, the setting, the music, the actors, and the props must be true to your brand, and your videos must work perfectly on your marketing channel and media mix.

  1. The brand guidelines have a different target group

Within a company, different departments can create content that can be shared internally or externally for different purposes. Human resources can create employee training videos, sales can develop materials to share with potential people, and a manager can prepare content for presentation at a conference.

Therefore, brand guidelines must be easy to understand and accessible to all audiences, especially those outside the marketing department who may not be interested in creating them.

A well-executed set of branding guidelines can help each section ensure that the content speaks the same language.

As a B2B marketer, we have a responsibility for our brands to align our internal and external communications, regardless of the division that delivers the content. Rather than just placing a guidance document on the corporate intranet and expecting it to be respected, marketing teams must actively collaborate with staff, training, sales, customer success, and others to ensure consistent messages, appearance, tone, and sensitivity in all communications.

You take on a very active role and your brand’s DNA permeates everyone’s work.

  1. Create a living and breathing document

Not all brand guidelines need to be immutable. There are many nuances to consider when providing specific guidelines for presenting your brand.

Brand guidelines provide guidelines for messages, appearance, shape, tone, and more; but at the same time, they must allow creative freedom and the ability of teams to adapt to the channels they use.

For example, if you’re social media team is launching an initiative in a new format (such as LinkedIn Live), the Brand Guidelines will provide initial guidance on how to represent your brand through this live medium. But the strategy should only be developed to fit the platform.

Once the strategy is created, it must revert to the brand guidelines, especially if the use of this new format applied the previous guidelines.

Think of something as simple as putting your logo on a sponsor’s website or a promotional product that comes in just a few colors. Do you need to reverse the guidelines to get the best representation of your brand, even if it means leaving your logo in black or white (or purple, in this case)? You decide. The guidelines are just that: if they were rules, they would be called rules.

Conclusion

Marketers, take a moment to assess whether your brand guidelines are working for your team and your company. Ask yourself: is the content shared internally and externally, consistently and in line, regardless of which team comes and in what format?

And if not, it’s time to make some changes