Did you know that 67% of marketers believe their senior leaders don’t appreciate the potential of a strong brand and 45% don’t think their internal and external brands align? While our largest job as marketers is brand recognition, you would be surprised to know how many businesses don’t have a set of brand standards.
But what are brand standards?
Brand standards are a collection of guidelines that are conducive to the brand’s style, voice, tone, and values. A brand’s standards are their roots and are responsible for how they are perceived in the public eye. Because of this, they are the most crucial piece of any brand.
Important Items to Include in Your Brand Standards
These standards are a collection of your brand guide (the overall look, feel, and visual identity) and your style guide (writing and editing copy). Having established brand standards builds a strong, recognizable brand and ensures consistency.
Impactful Mission and Vision
Whether you are a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization, a well-established business, or a startup, your organization’s life source begins with your mission and vision. Including this statement, along with your core values, in your brand standards introduces newcomers to your brand story. It also focuses on your design choices, reflecting your mission in each creation.
The logo might be one of the most important items within your brand standards. This is because oftentimes, it is the first thing that a company sees. Before text, photo, or a video, it is likely that a customer’s eyes will land on the logo first. The logo is also oftentimes responsible for establishing a brand’s color and persona. Many companies have a few variations of their logo. However, each variation should contain guidelines on the best practices for the logos’ uses.
Identifiable Typography and Iconography
Typography and iconography are some of the first visual aspects your audience will come into contact with first to develop your brand story in their minds. These can help with both tone and voice. Laying out the font styles and families, sizing, spacing, and their uses removes the guesswork for your designer and ensures all your communications are consistent. Using a certain type of imagery throughout your marketing efforts (marketing collateral, email campaigns, social posts, etc.) allows your organization to build its brand and how the public sees it. For example, if your brand’s persona has a more laid-back and carefree attitude, you might consider a light and airy sans serif font with bright imagery consisting of color pops.
Authentic Tone and Voice
Your brand’s tone and voice tell a potential customer what your brand is like in terms of attitude. When someone interacts with your brand, whether that be through a billboard or a social video, what adjectives come to their mind? Are you warm? Personable? Humorous? Scientific? Whichever words you would like your customers to associate with your brand, that feeling should be reflected authentically in every aspect of design and content creation. The way that your audience perceives your tone and voice sets their standard for how they feel about doing business with your organization.
Memorable Color Palette
When developing a visual treatment, every brand should have a set amount of brand colors that can be used—and how they should be used—in those treatments. Your color palette can determine your brand’s—for lack of a better word—vibe. Hex codes, RGB numbers, CMYK details, and Pantone names should all be included in your color standards. Designating the primary, secondary, and tertiary uses of your color palette also allows your designers to build a consistent brand and memorable visual identity.
Consistent Grammar Styles
Without realizing it, you’ve grown up with different writing styles. In high school you were taught to use MLA, college developed your knowledge of APA, and your professional career transitioned your writing style into AP or Chicago. Regardless of what style you decide melds best with your brand persona, determining a writing format helps your audience recognize your brand on a subconscious level. Small items like the use of the Oxford comma, capitalization, and how your copywriters present dates (October 12 vs October 12th vs 10/12 vs 12 October) all lend to your brand story.
Is Sticking to Your Brand Standards Guide That Important?
You might be thinking to yourself, “Okay, but what can happen if a brand doesn’t stick to their brand standards?” This is when brand dissonance occurs and can lead to a disconnection between what an organization says that it does and values and what people perceive an organization actually values. You’ve worked hard to build your brand, and this disconnect can undermine broader aspects of your brand and reputation. Decades of work can be quickly lost without set brand standards.
Firmly sticking to your own brand standards is essential if you want your brand to flourish. Incorporating all of your brand standards throughout all marketing efforts can aid in the brand’s development, consistency, look, feel, and overall success. Having a firm grip and clear definition of your brand standards can help you set your organization apart from the competition.
Are you looking for more information on how to develop your brand standards? We’ve helped numerous organizations already build their brand story. Schedule a free 30-minute strategy call with us today, and we’ll help you find the branding tools you need.