How to ensure brand compliance with brand guidelines

Author: Michał Żołądkowski

How to ensure brand compliance with brand guidelines

In this article, we want to talk about brand compliance and brand guidelines. Why does it matter, and how can you ensure it? Shortly put, brand guidelines are something that allows you to keep full supervision over your brand and the way it’s presented. Companies have to ensure brand compliance to protect their image, identity, and all brand-related assets. But how does it work in practice? Let’s take a look.

Suppose you’ve built your company from the ground up. Every single element of your brand is carefully refined and tested. After years of operation, you gained your customers’ trust and engagement. They value your brand and the products that you make. You’ve put so much work to make sure everything works. Naturally, you want to protect it, make it consistent. How brand guidelines can help to achieve that?

And this is what brand compliance is all about. It ensures that your brand (as well as its products, message, and values) remain consistent and intact. Today, it can be challenging to maintain brand compliance with all these new communication channels. But the juice is definitely worth the squeeze!

It’s high time to protect your brand

It all starts with creating brand guidelines (also known as a brand style guide). It’s a set of rules and brand principles outlining how your brand should be presented. Typically, these guidelines are gathered to make everything legible and transparent. Brand style guides comprise:

  • Logo(s): including your main logo, secondary logo, icons, and other logo-related elements
  • Visual elements: imagery, icons, pictograms, illustrations, type of photos
  • Colour palette: what colours you should use around your brand
  • Typography: fonts, sizes, styles, colours
  • Voice and tone: how you communicate with the market

Many companies publish their brand guidelines online so that every interested party can verify how to use them. Let’s examine three such examples.

Three examples of best brand guidelines

Let’s start with Netflix. In their “brand assets” section, you can discover how to use the N symbol and the wordmark. You can see how both these logos correspond with context, where is the clear space, and what you should avoid.

Image source: https://brand.netflix.com/en/assets/

Samsung has also published its brand guidelines online. In their “brand identity” section, you can discover the history and vision behind their logo (“These precise adjustments to visual balancing and typography illustrates our dedication to excellence and creates human-driven experiences”). Samsung shows their lettermark colours and a clear space that has to be maintained around their logo.

Image source: https://www.samsung.com/us/about-us/brand-identity/logo/

And here’s the third and rather unexpected example: NASA. Did you know that their Graphics Standard Manual was originally released back in 1976? Even over forty years ago, this American agency understood how important it is to present its brand consistency. They even had guidelines on how their logo should look on the spacecraft:

Image source: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nasa_graphics_manual_nhb_1430-2_jan_1976.pdf

If you are interested, these NASA guidelines (60 pages of them) are still available to view for free. NASA example shows that you should be thorough when it comes to the way your brand is showcased. It’s the best way to protect it no matter where and when it’s presented.

If you have your brand guidelines in place, you have to find a way to monitor this consistency across different channels and countries. To ensure that, you can assemble a team or a branding agency to monitor the brand’s usage (many monitoring tools facilitate this task) and check whether it’s fully compliant with your guidelines.

Share knowledge

That’s the second element you ought to think about. The knowledge about your brand guidelines should be accessible and common, both internally (sales department, marketing department, employees) and externally (marketing and branding agencies, freelancers, contractors, vendors). You can also create a short set of the best branding practices so that people have quick access to the most important elements of your guidelines without the need to read the whole 60-page style guide.

It is also very important to educate people about protecting the brand and why this approach is beneficial. This way, they will be more willing to help protect the brand and its visual identity. Even the best brand guidelines require occasional clarification, so we offer brand specialists support to help your team succeed. We provide brand training sessions and workshops to help employees understand the visual brand communication strategy.

Useful tools

If you want every involved party to present your brand correctly, provide them with easy-to-use tools that will facilitate their work. And by these tools, we mean:

  • Templates
  • Ready-made layouts for different purposes
  • Clear and short instructions

This way, with everything readily available, people working with your brand will save a lot of time. And using your ready-made corporate materials significantly reduces the risk of a potential violation of the brand rules. On the other hand, whenever possible, you should give some freedom so that marketers and brand agencies don’t feel caged by your guidelines. Common sense is always appreciated.

Keep your brand guidelines up to date

As we frequently mention on our blog, brands have to change. The market changes. People change. Therefore, you should keep your brand updated according to the latest trends. This doesn’t mean that you should bring about a revolution every single time something happens in the market, though. On the contrary, a vital aspect of your brand’s value is its consistency. But you should verify guidelines from time to time and see if they need some honing.

Sometimes the need to update brand guidelines comes from your community. That’s why you should carefully listen to what they say and act accordingly. Once again, that’s why brand guidelines should be easily accessible to anyone interested.

Summary: Brand compliance ensured

To sum up, the best way to protect your brand and its identity is threefold:

  1. Create exhaustive brand guidelines or brand book
  2. Designate a team responsible for executing them and verifying their usage
  3. Keep your guidelines up to date and make sure everyone has easy access to them

If you’re looking for a trusted branding agency that will help you set all the necessary guidelines and support you in protecting them – we’re at your disposal. We work with brands all over the world and know what to do to ensure your brand and all its assets are properly taken care of. Drop us a line to find out more.

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