Now that you’ve got a new name, logo, and slogan, you’ve got all the essential elements of a brand. At this point, you’ve got to build your brand recognition, but as you do so, you’ll need to think about how to preserve your brand’s integrity. You do this by creating and enforcing a brand guide.
What’s a brand guide?
A brand guide is a set of guidelines that create consistency with your brand by explaining and demonstrating exactly how elements of your brand should be used. You will use it internally and externally to maintain control on anything related to your brand: from copy to colors to trademarks to logos. Basically, it tells people how to and how not to use everything associated with your brand.
For businesses with a lot of media needs, branding guides can get very complex very fast. As an MSP, however, you probably only need something simple. Let’s discuss elements you’ll probably benefit most from having.
The intro is used to explain the intent of your guide, which is to make sure your brand isn’t used improperly in anyway.
Logos & Logo Usage
This section shows the official versions of your logo and how they should be used. For example, you might not want your logo put at jaunty angles or broken up into smaller elements, or you might not want to put your logo on top of really crazy images that cause it to get lost in the mire.
This is where you outline exactly what colors should be used for your logo and other branding elements. For example, as we mentioned in an earlier section, the blue part of the StorageCraft logo almost disappears on a black field. In our branding guide, we make it clear that our logo should be all white if used on a black field. If you have dark colors in your logo, you may want to make similar considerations.
This deals with your font. You should make it clear which font your logo is in, and which fonts are acceptable in advertising or copy. Essentially, this part covers any text related to your brand.
This section lays out when and where to put trademarks (e.g. ® or ™) on your logo, or with accompanying brand elements like your slogan, if it’s trademarked. Make it clear that you own the name and logo, and show exactly where these trademarks should appear. If you have trademarks on your products, make those clear as well.
This section outlines what types of images are acceptable to use along with elements of your brand. You probably don’t want pixelated clip-art stolen from Google or junky photos taken with an electric potato camera, so make it clear that people should only use hi-res, professional-quality photographs that serve your overall brand identity. Crappy images will make your brand look tacky. Take note of the content in the images as well, you certainly don’t want any images that don’t fit in with your company’s or customers’ philosophy. Crude, rude, or inappropriate images should be avoided.
Copy & Tone of Voice
This is where you establish what type of tone any copy accompanying your brand should have. This applies to everything from blog posts, to webpage copy, to newsletter copy. The tone can be lighthearted or fully professional, or whatever best suits your needs. For example, the StorageCraft brand guide calls for a tone of voice that is smart, warm, personal and with a sense of humor that is endearing and respectful. Whatever you choose, just try to be consistent.
You might not have ads, but if you do, you’ll want them to be consistent. This section should make it clear how elements of your brand should be used for all forms of advertising, whether you’re talking about web banners, direct mail pieces, or even billboards, so that all of your various ads have a consistent brand tone and voice.
Have you thought about using QR codes in your print marketing? Check out our quick guide to QR codes.