A strong company brand has a lot of time and money invested in it and, when implemented and delivered well, it pays great dividends. It defines, differentiates and positions you in a competitive market. It communicates who you are, what you do and how you do it – it is the promise of what will be delivered to the customer, be it a product, service or experience. Think of some of the biggest brands – Coca Cola, Nike, McDonalds. More people in the world recognise the big yellow ‘M’ in McDonalds than they do the crucifix. That gives us some idea of the power of the brand.
Behind every great brand is a set of brand guidelines. These range from an A4 sheet showing how a master logo should look to multiple-volume sets outlining every possible use and global application. Guidelines ensure consistency of use and ultimately help to elevate a brand to greater and more immediate recognition. Brand guidelines are good. Designers (as much as we moan about restrictions to our creativity) like a framework to work within. We like rules, conventions and grids. We like to work with a set of rules that we can challenge and push against. Good guidelines give designers enough scope to develop creative solutions without strangling creativity.
Guidelines should be just that – guidelines. By definition, following a guideline is never mandatory. Certain aspects of brand guidelines should be open to interpretation while other aspects should be ring-fenced and protected. Bad guidelines do not necessarily mean that the brand is best represented. Yes, the logo may be in the correct position and the correct size. The grid followed religiously. The correct font size and leading used. But where’s the spark needed to communicate a specific message that isn’t in the brand bible? A good brand allows enough flexibility to feel both familiar and fresh at the same time.
Have faith in your appointed agency and have the courage to break out of the ‘is it in the guideline?’ mentality. You might just reap great rewards and get the best out of your brand.
If your current brand isn’t working though, maybe it’s time to come to us. At HROC, we do lovely guidelines!