What Is Brand Identity and Why Are Brand Guidelines Important?

What is brand identity?

What is the first thing you think of when you think about your favourite brand?  

Perhaps you’re an Apple fan, like millions of others across the world? In which case you most likely think about the iconic apple logo, instantly recognisable even without the company name. It’s modern and minimalist look is synonymous with innovation and outstanding design that many of us have come to love and expect from their technology-leading products. Their brand identity design can be seen in everything they do, from usability, design, and language, through to packaging and even its retail outlets.

Another example, in fact a personal favourite of my own, is Moleskine. For those of you who haven’t heard of them before they basically sell notebooks. But hold on, they’re not just any old notebooks! Aside from being incredibly expensive, they are beautifully crafted with a simple and elegant design, and perfectly bound so they never fall apart. With a strong vision ‘to create a world where we take the time to stop and notice the details, where we sit on a bench in a bustling city and scribble down an idea that has come into our head’, they have cleverly managed to turn an everyday product into something special with a loyal following of creatives, entrepreneurs and travellers who would never choose another brand.

Their vision, combined with the simplicity of their design is a key part of their attraction and can be seen in their website, point of sale and throughout their stores.

The key point here is that brand identity is more than just a logo, it is the image that people visualise when someone talks about a brand, or the way it makes them feel. It is your business’s personality, and some would even argue it is a business’ most important asset.

Every business has a brand even if it doesn’t act like it. Whilst some companies have spent millions and worked hard to consciously create their brand, for some businesses, theirs is something that has developed over time.

Whatever the story behind your brand, the key to creating a strong brand identity that accurately reflects your business’ values and personality, is continuity and consistency. The way you speak to your customers, how you present yourselves must be recognisable regardless of the channel you are communicating to your customers with. And the best way to do this is through creating a comprehensive set of brand guidelines.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines, otherwise known as “brand book” or “style guide”,  are a series of standards and rules that guides anyone who interacts with your brand, including designers, suppliers, and staff, on how the different elements of your brand should be used. These rules must be followed to create consistent marketing materials, and ensure your brand is portrayed professionally at all times. Typically the document would include information about the following:

• Company vision and values
• Mission statement
• Tone of voice
• Fonts
• Logo usage
• Type style
• Image style/photography
• Colour palette

Whilst creating brand guidelines can be time consuming, it is essential for effective marketing strategy and creating a successful brand. So before you jump in and decide to invest time and effort, here is a little more about why it is so important.

Why are brand guidelines so important?

1. They help to create a strong brand identity

Strong and consistent branding helps to portray what your business stands for, its values, and personality. Creating an identity is much easier with a set of guidelines, ensuring consistency across all channels.

2. Brand consistency

Brand guidelines are an excellent way to ensure cohesive and consistent styling for your company. They should have some degree of flexibility to enable designers to be creative, but rigid enough to keep your brand easily recognisable. Without guidelines, a brand can often develop and distort over time which can be damaging to your brand and come across as unprofessional.

3. Brand recognition

Representing your brand in a consistent way will help you become more recognizable within your industry, your target audience and your customers, enabling them to recall your brand better in the future.

4. Saves time and effort

From a practical point of view brand guidelines are an excellent way of communicating the brand to new staff and suppliers. Once staff have familiarised themselves with the document, it provides them with focus and direction to ensure they mirror the messages in their day to day work and can help to avoid costly mistakes and confusion.

5. They build brand value

A strong cohesive brand helps to increase your brand’s perceived value, showing it to be reliable and professional.  Brand guidelines help protect the integrity of your brand value that you have worked so hard to build.

If you would like more information on how Soap can help you on your branding journey, please get in touch.

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