Are your brand guidelines a list of do’s and don’ts, or the true beating heart of your brand?

The term brand guidelines, covers a multitude of sins.

They can be so basic that they’re not much of a guide to anything – apart from “the brand logo looks like this”, “the brand colours look like this” and “the brand typeface looks like this”. Oh, and make sure the logo isn’t too small, isn’t applied on a angle, or on a background that makes it illegible.

And then there are the brand guidelines that make a straight-jacket look more like a fashion statement than a suffocating restraint. These types of brand guidelines, much beloved by corporates, leave the hapless designer with a sense of frustration and futility. So, what should brand guidelines be? Where does the happy medium lie?

Let’s start with the name. If we refer to the Oxford English Dictionary, a guideline is defined as ‘a general rule, principle, or piece of advice’. Which is hardly going to do your brand justice. So, before we go any further, let’s change its name. Let’s call it a ‘brand book’ or a ‘brand bible’ or for the more adventurous amongst us, why not call your guide ‘the true beating heart of our brand’.

Which takes us neatly to the fact that creating a strong, consistent brand, isn’t about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about creating a living, breathing entity with its own purpose, vision, personality, values and point of difference. That’s why defining your brand’s essence, in all of its behaviours and expressions, is where the process must start.

Once this has been successfully completed, you’ll be able to provide the necessary and insightful guidance, for everyone who has a hand in anything that effects the way your brand is seen and perceived.

Want help with developing your ‘beating heart’? Find out how we can help.

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