Monday, 1 May 2017

My Useful Guide: Corporate Guidelines

When you are unsure how to use something, you normally refer to the user manual to help get better clarity. It’s no different with your branding and corporate identity. Corporate guidelines are your user manual to help set consistent communication across your business and to your customers.

Creating your corporate image is not enough. For any identity to be successful, it needs to be well managed too. Brand guidelines are designed to initiate and show employees the correct way to set and apply the brand communication across a variety of platforms and applications in a way that best supports and protects the brand.

A strong protected brand continues to build and grow value for your business. Corporate guidelines help achieve this by ensuring all employees, partners and external marketing agencies use the brand elements in the correct way at the right times. The guidelines provide the information and tools, setting the tone and standards for using brand names, logos, typefaces and other design elements in advertising (online and offline), brochures and flyers, POS, reports, newsletters, promotional items like exhibition stands, gifts, packaging and online communications.

A 2005 study by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton and Wolff Olin’s found that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability. (1)

A key factor for maintaining a good and successful corporate image is consistency - especially important for any business with multiple locations. Consistency breeds recall and recognition, supporting your brand. Guidelines give your company control over the way other people use your brand so that its visual appearance to customers and clients is always the same.

Can you imagine the confusion for your customers if the signage on the outside of your building in one city was different compared to another? Is your stationery in the one office different to an office the other side of the country? Are you consistent or lax? Hopefully, your brand and corporate communication are the same at all your branches and offices. If not, you need to consider designing and creating a set of guidelines and apply and manage them so your brand is expressed and exposed consistently.

What should you include in your corporate guidelines:

• Brand values and ethos
• Logo
• Positioning, size and clear space
• Do’s and Don’ts
• Colour palette
• Typography

If applicable:
• Images
• Copywriting and tone
• Layouts
• Templates for stationery
• Web specifications
• Co-branding
• Advertising
• Signage

To Summarise
Corporate guidelines function at two levels: firstly, they explain why your employees and distributors and agencies should use the brand to achieve business objectives and goals. Secondly, they provide practical instructions on how to use communication fundamentals consistently across the business.

TOP TIP: Don’t assume that everyone has adhered to your corporate guidelines - it is important that you have an in-house process where final artwork is checked and approved.