We see you. You with that nice logo and website. You’ve got crisp lil’ business cards to match. Maybe even a trifold brochure.
But brands beware. Keeping that identity fresh and clean is harder than you think. After a few months, Joe is sending out donor appeals on unbranded letterhead, Lydia’s email signature still uses the old logo and your YouTube banner has all the wrong colors. Individually, those are all small things, right? But consumers are used to seeing brand fidelity everywhere they go. As each of us are bombarded with more and more content — especially on social media — the importance of maintaining a consistent brand is at a new height.
While you may know that brand consistency is an important part of any organization’s visual identity, it can still degrade over time. Life is messy. Sometimes we’re too rushed to find the right fonts or colors. And we get it, the big organizations have a whole team of people who ensure brand consistency. They might even have a graphic designer whose entire job is to uphold and police misuse of the organization’s brand across all media.
But there’s a super simple tool that will help keep everything in line. It’s a tool that the big-wigs have, and it’s a tool that you can have too. It’s called a brand book.
Life without a brand book is like making a chocolate soufflé from scratch — nobody’s got time for that (trust us, we’ve tried). Like a trusty recipe, your brand book gives you guidelines for how to make your sure your brand use is perfect every time. One cup of this, a dash of that, and voilà. Beautiful banner. Your brand stays delicious and replicable every time.
So, wait, what is a brand book exactly?
Technically, it’s a set of rules and guidelines around these major design elements: fonts, colors and logo. Functionally, however a brand book is a quick guide for you, your colleagues and partners to make it as easy as possible to maintain a consistent identity for your organization.
Stop using papyrus. If your brand font is Source Sans Pro, then use it and be sure not to confuse it with Open Sans or Roboto.
Then, what happens if your fonts aren’t available on a specific platform? Don’t worry. That’s on page three, with the proper formatting for heading one, heading two, body text and captions.
Pantone 2344 C is not Pantone 2433 C. They might seem close enough, but it’s visually confusing if you use them interchangeably. There’s a lot of noise out there; brand colors make it easier for your audience to find you amidst the flotsam.
Logo Size and Spacing
If you don’t have spacing guidelines, you will get lost in logo soup. Demand to take up space. And if designers get it wrong, don’t get mad, just send them page four because you have professional guidelines for that, darn it!
Brand Dos and Don’ts
One of the most helpful pages your brand will ever own. Post it on the office refrigerator. Make it your desktop background. This page could save your life.
Putting Your Brand Book to Use
So, you’ve hired a designer to make you an annual report — give them your brand book.
You’ve partnered with another organization for an event — give them your brand book.
You’re working with a web developer to update your website — give them your brand book.
That way, there will be no more back and forth on what your brand colors are, how much space to put around your logo, or what font they should use.
MediaDesk makes a mean brand book. And we’d love to make one for you. It’s a fantastic tool and a very low-cost, high-value investment for your company toolbox. If you think your organization could use one, talk to us about it!