How Brand Guidelines Make or Break Brand Management

Brand management used to be a much simpler task. All it took was a single communication to designers and vendors outlining your logo, colors, typography, and other specifics. Today, that process has been complicated by a number of changes to your brand guidelines. There are more digital touchpoints than ever.

This includes social media, global, teams, freelancers, and a sky’s the limit approach to digital creativity. It can all be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to break things down. Here is how you can easily evolve your brand guidelines to adapt to the fast-paced digital landscape.

Improve Your Brand Guidelines in 4 Easy Steps

When it comes to getting your brand guidelines ready for the world of modern brand management, where do you start? Focusing on these four basic steps will get you right on track. Be sure to ask yourself these important questions as you work:

  1. Evaluate: What are your brand guidelines currently? What is working? How can they be improved?
  2. Identify: Which marketing channels does your brand already occupy? Where do you want to expand?
  3. Adapt: How do your brand guidelines need to change to express the right messages in the right channels?
  4. Distribute: Publish your brand guidelines so that they are applicable and use-case specific.

Put It In Writing

While these guidelines may seem obvious to you, put every last detail in writing. Leaving gaps creates a potential for miscommunications and other issues, which can be very frustrating.

After all, others are not in your head, and will not be able to give you the specific things you require unless you make those requirements clear.

Everything from the tone of voice of the brand to specific fonts needs to be put in writing. Write out everything from logo specifics to the purpose of your brand and the value it offers customers.

This can be as specific as avoiding certain colors or words. Make sure it is very clear who your audience is and what you are trying to accomplish.

Know Your Marketing Channels

It is key for successful marketing that your brand is present in places where your audience spends time online or is likely to see it.

Social media has drastically changed the types and kinds of marketing channels available. Make sure your brand requirements include guidelines for any that you wish to use because all of them are different.

Different channels have different guidelines, requirements, environments, and audiences. Different marketing channels can include:

  • Affiliates
  • Billboard Ads
  • Blogs
  • Facebook Ads
  • Emails
  • Mobile Ads
  • Pay Per Click
  • SMS
  • Twitter Account
  • Broadcast Ads

Depending on which you pursue, you need specific brand guidelines outlines for each. Overlook these guidelines regularly and if they are not working for your brand, it is important to work on fixing them.

Figure out which tone, imagery, and brand elements are most effective on which platforms.

Keep On Top of Channel Changes

It’s no secret that the digital landscape is constantly evolving, but knowing the specifics of this is key for developing up-to-date and effective brand guidelines and brand management. In order to reach the right base, you have to know where specifically to extend your reach.

For example, if you are looking to reach a target demographic of men aged 55 and older, it would be a waste of resources to focus on Tumblr.com for social media marketing, as 70% of the site’s users are between 16 and 34 years old.

This might change over time, and if it does, it would only benefit your business to be ready to seize that opportunity. Knowing who is using which channels, and also how the channels themselves might be changing or growing is also important.

For example, Twitter’s community appears to be slowing in growth, while Instagram’s is exploding, increasing by over 100 million new users a year. While Facebook is incredibly common in the US, if you are looking to advertise internationally, you might want to focus more on Instagram, as 75% of Instagram users are outside of the US.

You will need to have specific brand guidelines that outline who you are pursuing on which channels, how to do it, and why.

What To Do With Your Brand Guidelines

Coming up with brand guidelines is only half of the battle. Once you have them, you must be able to communicate them effectively.

You must also be ready to update and change them as necessary for the benefit of your brand. What works on YouTube may not work on Facebook or in Email campaigns or print.

Audiences and the channels themselves also constantly evolve. Being responsive to these shifts is key.

Keep It Simple

Modern marketing organizations depend upon many people to carry messages to their customers, which is part of what makes it incredibly important to write strong and clear brand guidelines to keep everyone on the same page.

Whether you are interacting with agencies, partners, distributors, influencers, or franchises, your brand guidelines have to be succinct, clear, and not leave room for interpretation.

Many successful brand managers publish their brand guidelines online on cloud-based platforms. This allows the necessary people to have access to them with permission-based control. It makes managing updates in one central location from anywhere in the world simple.

Stay Flexible

Marketing and brand management have become much more sophisticated and complex. It is no longer possible to put a few ads up on one television channel and have a guaranteed audience of millions.

Writing up brand guidelines once and using them forever is not an option. If you do use the same brand guidelines for every channel, you will only be sporadically successful at communicating how you want your brand to be seen. In fact, the brand guidelines that worked fantastically at one time may be less effective over time.

More Is More

Brand management involves so much more than it ever has, and more is the name of the game. For a brand to succeed, brand guidelines must be responsive to more assets, channels, and niche audiences.

However, with relevant, smart, and clear brand guidelines in place, brands can be poised to make more connections, more positive impressions, and gain more customers than ever before.

Should brand guidelines change with consumer behavior? Or does it really matter? Comment below…


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