Brand standards are a set of guidelines for the colors; photography and graphic elements; logo specs; fonts and messaging that comprise your brand. They’re the glue that holds your brand together and help to create and protect your firm’s brand identity.
Once they’re established, it’s imperative that all employees understand and uphold them. Many firms invest a considerable amount of both human and capital resources into developing a unique brand identity, only to see them diluted along the way. Here’s why brand standards are so important, and why you should implement them within everything that you do.
Consistent visual identity correlates with brand recognitionThe most powerful brands not only have a great visual identity, but that identity is methodically reinforced across every single touchpoint. Having a brand standards guide that is strictly enforced throughout the company helps to ensure consistency, which over time supports strong brand recognition amongst clients and prospects.
Standards help guide your employeesThe whole point of brand guidelines is to help every person in the organization understand your mission and uphold the integrity of the brand in everything that they do. Providing context for what the brand represents and how the various elements work together gives employees a common language and reinforces the importance of a consistent brand experience. Additionally, documented brand standards can help onboard new employees or external agency partners by serving as a reference for communication materials.
Defining logo usage and “lockups”Your logo is the cornerstone of your visual brand identity. Therefore, a logo specifications guide is one of the most important elements to document, providing strict instruction on how the logo can, and cannot, be used. No one should ever be able to adjust the look of your logo. Critical guidelines for size, positioning, margins and colors should be clearly outlined, as well as various “lockups” for all acceptable variations (color, black and white, horizontal, vertical, etc.) of the logo depending on placement and usage.
Specify colors and fontsThe brand guidelines should specify a primary set of Pantone colors to use for the majority of your communication materials. You may also have a secondary color palette to use as accents that enhance the design of marketing materials. It’s also important to specify your palette in RGB and HEX color formats for use in digital applications, such as your website, social media profiles and email.
In addition to specifying the color palette, it’s equally important to specify the corporate typefaces or fonts that represent your brand. You’ll first specify the names of the fonts (usually 2-3 different fonts are used), but you’ll also want to give guidance on weights (light, regular, bold, condensed, etc.), size specifications and other considerations such as rules for all caps, no caps, small caps, italics, etc.
Working in advertising throughout my life has led me down this path. My team makes brands stand out and helps companies move the needle on the bottom line.