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Brand3 Team  •  January 1, 1970
The Guidelines Document: Your Blueprint to
Long-Term Success.
Without clear guidelines, your brand’s reputation is at risk.
Businesses that dominate their industries have a strong brand identity. Those that don’t are left
fighting for scraps.
Your brand is an extremely valuable asset. If it’s strong, you’ll attract new customers while
reinforcing the loyalty of your existing customers. If it’s respected, it can enable you to charge
higher margins.
In other words, your brand is the lifeblood of your business. And it directly affects whether you
fail or succeed over the long run.
It takes time to build a brand.
Your brand is a reservoir of goodwill; something like a savings account. With care and nurturing,
your account will build enough of a balance that you can draw on the interest—as long as you
protect the principal. And your brand is valuable enough that you should treat it just that way: as
a real financial asset.
Keep in mind that you’re adding to—or stealing from—your brand equity every time you (or one
of your employees):
Interact with a customer
Post on social media
Create any kind of marketing material
Remember, though: your brand can be damaged in an instant.
Today’s consumers are educated, skeptical and social-media savvy. When they want to find out
about your brand, they’ll look at online reviews. And those who leave reviews tend to be more
negative than positive.
One dispute with an employee—even if the employee did nothing wrong—or one ill-advised
tweet can damage your reputation to an audience of thousands.
A trusted, well-defined brand can deflect or defuse at least some of the criticism, especially if
you enforce a strict social media policy for your company and your employees’ private accounts.
The question is how to build up a reservoir of good will for just such occasions.

To build trust, make consistency your highest priority.
Trust is built upon familiarity. Familiarity is built upon consistency. You may need as many as
seven exposures before a customer will recognize and trust your brand. But these messages
have to be delivered consistently and repeatedly.
Customers are bombarded with thousands of advertising and marketing messages a day. To
form a strong memory, they need to see a consistent identity—logo, colors and personality—
that builds familiarity and trust.
This subconscious repetition is a powerful way to cut through the noise and make yourself
heard in a crowded marketplace.
Brand guidelines establish the consistency you need.
Maybe you’ve paid a designer or agency for a logo, website or other branding work. Did they
give you a structured brand guidelines document to follow? If not, you can weaken your brand,
which will hurt your bottom line.
Whenever you create a marketing message, no matter how small, you need a blueprint to work
from. Most companies refer to it as their “style guide.” A good style guide eliminates guesswork,
so anyone on your team can create consistent content that strengthens your brand.
An effective style guide should:
Be simple, yet specific—easy to follow, even for a non-designer
Contain clear “Do” examples of best practices and “Do Not” examples
of common mistakes
Go beyond the visual elements to address your brand’s story, personality and voice
Your style guide should address:
Color is the first element a viewer sees. It evokes an instant emotional response—and
increases brand recognition by 80%.
(Source: Loyola University of Maryland study)
It’s not as simple as ‘red’, ‘yellow’, or ‘blue’. You must use specific color values for both digital
and print assets. If you don’t, your customer will notice even subtle differences and read them
as mistakes. And your brand will be perceived as unprofessional and untrustworthy.
The example below shows how Netflix uses specific color guidelines for a powerful brand

When you address your audience, what personality do you want to convey? Casual and
conversational? Or more formal and businesslike? There’s a wide spectrum of potential voices.
So you need to pick the one that best resonates with your ideal customer.
Your brand voice must be human, not corporate. Even if you have hundreds of employees, you
need to establish a feeling of one-on-one conversation.
Above all, your voice has to be uniform. Every communication has to sound like it’s coming from
the same source. If it sounds like you have dozens of people shouting in different voices, your
audience will start to wonder: “Did they get hacked? Who’s writing this? This doesn’t
Here’s an excellent example of voice guidelines for Zoom’s marketing team.

Your logo and your brand aren’t the same thing. But a logo is a visual calling card. Once you’ve
established it, your logo is the visual summary of your brand, the story it represents, and the
promise you make to your customers. (Example: the Nike “swoosh” and “Just Do It.”)
Your logo should be as consistent as possible, across all media. Generally, it shouldn’t be
altered in any way. It shouldn’t be disproportionately stretched, re-colored, or paired with other
words or objects that don’t reflect your brand image.
Some variations, however, maybe be appropriate depending on the context and format your
logo is being used in. In these cases, a good set of brand guidelines will keep you from going off
the rails. See how Zoom does it below.

Typography and spacing
Typefaces, also known as fonts, are also critical to a strong brand identity. Like your voice and
other visual elements, they must be consistent.
Your typeface can instantly trigger a strong association with your brand, much as your colors
and logo do. Type can also shape the “visual voice” that readers shape in their minds. For
instance, Chewy.com uses a light, rounded, lower-case look on its site that evokes playful
moments between people and pets. By contrast, Nike uses a wide, bold, in-your-face style that
conveys both attitude and authority.
It’s hard to overstate how important it is to choose the right typeface. If it’s distracting or hard to
read, you’ll lose your customer’s attention right away. And if you just stick with the choices your
computer provides, you won’t make much of a statement.

Take a look at these examples from the American Red Cross. Notice how they use one typeface
to convey quiet, objective authority, and another for storytelling, opinion and calls to action.
And make sure that your brand guidelines also include:
A description of your brand story and values
Rules for the use of photography and illustration
Rules for the treatment of your slogan/tagline
Choosing the right blueprint is critical to your success.
The correct brand strategy and guidelines can generate more customers, higher margins, and a
greater ROI from your marketing budget.
But be careful. Don’t just pick another brand’s guidelines that you like and try to force them over
your company’s style. You’ll actually do more harm than good. Your brand image has to be

tailored to who you are, what you do and who you serve. You might admire another brand, but
their look and feel probably won’t work for you.
A well-constructed style guide will include simple, clear instructions that your team can follow
easily from day to day. It will be a powerful tool to keep you consistent and help you build a
strong brand.
But while good guidelines are easy to follow, the foundation and theory they’re built on is
incredibly complex.
We can help you unlock an effective brand strategy.
The style elements we’ve discussed are just a few of the variables you need to align so your
brand will 1) resonate with your customers and 2) stand out from the competition.
It’s like opening a combination lock. If even one number is off, you’ll be shut out of your full
potential. But a master locksmith can help you find the right combination—revealing riches that
were there all along. Then you can build your style guide on that combination and keep winning
If you’ve had trouble gaining traction in your market, it’s time to call for help. At Brand3, we have
a proven record of helping our clients craft their perfect message and brand strategy. And we
can do the same for you. Together, we’ll develop simple, easy-to-follow brand guidelines that will
help you build a powerful brand—and position you for long-term success.

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Copyright © 2024 Brand3, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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