Having brand guidelines is important for any business, no matter how big or small. The purpose of a brand book is to offer an overview of all the elements that work together to create the brand and offer a framework for your employees and the people responsible for your marketing (agencies, designers, writers, web developers, etc). The guidelines will help all of them have the same understanding on how your brand comes to life and will set standards and rules for them to keep the brand cohesive. The end goal being to create a consistent experience across all touch-points for your target audience.
Brand guidelines are also called brand books and can be structured differently depending on the type of business, but there are some common things that can be found in the majority of the guidelines, like stating the mission, vision, and values of the business, detailing the company’s culture and the services or products offered, and a style guide with brand colours. fonts and recommendations on how to use the logo.
HOW WE CREATED OUR OWN BRAND BOOK
At 90, this year we decided to invest more time and effort into our own marketing and one of the first things we had to do was to review all of our branding documents that have been put together in the last seven years since the agency was opened and create a brand book that’s in line with who we are today. It was a lot of work across several months and the document ended up being 65 pages long, but we are very happy with the results. We can now communicate a consistent brand identity that will make our brand more recognisable and reliable.
We’ve structured our brand book in four main categories: Introduction, Our Brand Essence, Our Business Model, Our Style Guide.
In the introduction we explained what the purpose of the document is, how we define a brand, and how our role as 90ers means being a brand ambassador, helping our target come into contact with as many positive experiences and impressions as possible (through all channels: social media, emails, website, calls, meetings etc). Our agency offers services and these services are delivered by people. Therefore it’s important for our team to have the same grasp on our brand because in the end they represent 90 and can impact the perception our clients have about our agency.
It’s also very useful for the non-marketing people from the team to learn more about the subject.
The second section of our Brand Book is called Our Brand Essence and it includes seven subcategories:
- Our USP
- Our Tagline
- Our Vision
- Our Mission
- Our Values
- Our Essential Intent
- Our Brand Pyramid
Last year we began a six month process of defining our Mission, Vision, Values and Essential Intent. You can read all about our challenging and remote process in Ana’s blog post.
Another important step in building a brand is identifying your Unique Selling Proposition, the “what” that sets you apart from your competition. Our USP is the guiding light that powers everything we do at 90 Digital. Our approach was always to offer personalised insights into our clients’ online efforts and processes. We provide a 100% personalised service based on our clients’ needs, industry and target audience. Due to this tailored approach, we work closely with our clients and can create the working environment of an ‘in-house’ digital marketing team, without us actually taking up any office space. Our USP is communicated very well through our tagline “Your personal digital marketing agency”.
Because we have an atypical business model, it was mandatory for us to include details about this in our brand book. The subcategories included here were:
- Our Culture
- Our Way of Working
- Our Target
- Our Tone of Voice
- Our Services
Our culture is what makes us special, it is the skeleton on which our business was built on. We are a remote working agency, self-managed, with a culture of accountability. And our way of working is a translation of our USP. We analysed how all these elements are impacting our brand and decided on a tone of voice. When choosing a tone of voice for your brand it’s important to take into consideration your brand’s personality and attributes and make sure all your writing and messaging follows the same key principles.
The last section of our Brand Book has very clear guidelines on our brand’s style that should be followed by all 90ers, across all channels, both internally and externally. This is the longest section of the document, with eight subcategories:
- Brand Name
- Colour Palette
- Social Media
For your brand name, you need to decide how you want to write it and stick to that. For example, we always write our brand name: 90 or 90 Digital, never 90digital or 90Digital. Regarding the logo, we included the 3 versions of our logo (on black, on white and favicon), how the logo should be used on different background colours, where the logo should be positioned in documents, tagline lockup and how the logo looks in our email signatures.
Choose one, maximum two, fonts that will represent your brand. Next, decide on your brand colours. For the 90 brand we chose 5 colours: the first 3 colours – black, white and blue – are part of our logo colour palette. The muted gold is inspired by the images taken by our colleague Jose on his travels (we used one of his pictures on our homepage and social media cover images). The navy blue compliments each of these colours as an additional accent colour where required.
Other things included in our style guide: what type of images we should use and the image treatment (eg.: Inspired by our gold brand colour, the image temperature for all our pictures should be warm. Use image filters that have a yellow tint.), how to communicate on our social media channels and blog, what templates to use for client reports, proposals and company presentations.
For big brands, like Coca Cola or Pepsi, the style guide is one of the most important marketing documents. A global brand needs to ensure its communication is consistent across all countries so all the agencies that collaborate with the brand follow the same rules. A style guide for a product could also include information about packaging, merchandise, ads, events etc.
Putting together a brand book for your brand will be very beneficial for your business, it will give a lot of clarity and consistency to your communication and might offer inspiration for current and future products or services. And remember that all brands are built by people, so make sure your employees are integrating the guidelines in their day by day.