A brand involves more than a name and logo being slapped onto a product, service, or company to stake claim to said product, service or company. Even though the concept of branding originated from marks being burned onto cattle, allowing herders to distinguish who owned which livestock, brands have evolved into something more meaningful and complex.

To this day, no one fixed definition of a 'brand' has been agreed upon. Wikipedia calls it:

“an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer”

This is a vague description at best. Some define a brand as a ‘promise’ to its customers, the company's reputation, or the customers gut feeling about the products and services. Other define a brand as the sum of all impressions made by the company on it customers or the relationship between the company and its customer. The fact of the matter is that a brand is not one of those things, but all of those things working together.

One thing is for certain - a brand is intangible. This is why having brand guidelines is vital for a consistent and strongly recognizable brand.

Enter the Brand Guideline.

Brand Guidelines, or a Brand Book, is a set of rules that ensure the brand is showcased correctly and consistently across all mediums, both on and offline.

Every Brand Guidelines should include the basics - the brand heart, the brand pyramid, the logo and slogan as well as their correct usages, the brand color palette/s, the typographical system, the illustration/ icon style (if applicable) and the photography style. More sections can be added is appropriate.

For more on the Mäd Brand Pyramid click here.

Who the brand is

Capturing the 'soul' of the brand is important. This is done through the brand heart and brand pyramid. These sections typically come before any other and should allow any new employees to grasp the essence of the brand from reading them. Even though it is not alway necessary, some companies choose to include their story in their Brand Guidelines as well.

The meat of the matter

This refers to the brand's visual identity and how each visual element of the brand is used. The core visual expression of a brand is its logo. A logo has the ability to compress the companies purpose, personality and uniqueness into a single meaningful symbol through the use of lines, curves, colors and corners. Other visual elements include the slogan, visual language and illustration style, if any, and the photography style.  

The Logo - A logo has the ability to compress the companies purpose, personality and uniqueness into a single meaningful symbol through the use of lines, curves, colors and corners.

Logo Variations - This includes the horizontal and vertical logo variations,  color variations and the icon, if applicable.

Minimum Clear Space - A clear space is added around the logo to ensure that it is alway completely visible and recognizable. This allows the logo to stand proudly without any disruption from other brand elements. The clear space typically corresponds to an element in the logo.

To Do's & Dont's – It is vital the that correct and incorrect logo usage is clearly stated and adhered to, protecting the integrity of the logo. These will differ from logo to logo and brand to brand but most rules involve visibility, legibility, proportion, position.

Color Palettes – A breakdown of each color is included to ensure consistent color usage. These breakdowns include the hex code, CMYK, RGB and Pantone, if applicable.

Typographical System - This includes all typefaces, weights and how they they used.

Co-Branding – In the event of strategic alliances with other brands, it is key that the brand is maintained and respected within this co-existence.

Imagery

The direction of imagery should stem from the brand's personality, as defined in the brand pyramid, and keep the brand's target audience in mind. The type of images will differ from brand to brand, depending on what the brand is and what it offers. Some examples include lifestyle images and product images/

The Application - Including some examples of how the brand is used is always a good idea. This will help guide future brand development in a consistent and impactful way.

Conclusion

Having clear and comprehensive Brand Guidelines will ensure a brand that is consistent and impactful in its meaning. This will allow the brands customers to build a clear picture of how they define the brand.




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