Why brand guidelines are worth their salt

We have been completing a lot of brand guidelines in 2011. When we’re starting to work with people sometimes they don’t always see the true value of these tools. What it’s hard to appreciate when you start out on a brand creation or brand evolution project is the importance of communicating clearly the new approach for the entire organisation and your partners who turn ideas into reality.

In an ideal world, people from all across an organisation will have been involved in the brand definition and will have gone through exercises to understand the benefits for the organisation and how it can help them in their roles. However time and budgets don’t always allow for this inclusive approach and after months of defining the brand and creating good communications tool, the real test of the brand’s efficacy in delivering the business objectives comes in its implementation.

Senior managers might be fully on board but if the majority of employees don’t understand the rationale behind the change, for them, taking all this on board might seem like just another headache on top of their already stretched day jobs. The guidelines are only one part of spreading the word but they are a key tool in clearly laying out what the brand is all about, how it can streamline decision making and how new tools can help make people’s lives easier. Obviously these just can’t land on someone’s desk or in their inbox; senior team members need to lead from the top and get people behind why it makes sense to rally behind delivering a new or enhanced reputation.

We are often involved in only the first stages of implementing a brand and from a practical point of view, changing the visual manifestation of an organisation to support new messages can be a lengthy process. Well written, practical and flexible guidelines that allow a brand to breathe are an important start of defining new standards and a vital benchmarking tool. The best brands use their visual identities consistently and are passionate about the quality and faithfulness of its replication. What’s encouraging for us also is working with implementation specialists like VI360 who not only provide a clear-headed practical approach to rollout across a large organisation, they can also set this in a framework of evaluating current investment in the visual identity and using the re-brand exercise as an opportunity to not just enhance your reputation but also to build in new cost efficiencies, simplifying the purchasing process and streamlining budgets.

Brands don’t stand still and neither do guidelines but if you don’t clearly define the reputation you want to be known for, how can you expect your team and partners to turn it into reality?

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