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Centralizing Your Brand With a Brand Guidelines Document

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Your brand is likely much bigger than you perceive it. Many of our clients have a biased, surface-level perception of their brand, and as time goes on, that perception is decentralized. Organizations grow in size, produce more content, and gain a wider reach only to realize that their brand has become fragmented across their people and technology.

Everything your organization produces should have brand alignment. If multiple departments are producing public-facing work, then you need a playbook to keep everyone on the same page. That’s where a brand guidelines document comes in.

What Is a Brand Guidelines Document?

Your brand guidelines aren’t just a document, but an organizational commitment. It’s a living and breathing tool that allows your organization to say exactly who you are and who you serve, while outlining every component of the brand so it can be easily applied across the board. It exists to create brand consistency across a siloed or decentralized organization or prevent a brand from fracturing at the outset.

These guidelines should be one of the most accessible and distributed documents you have, owned by your marketing, creative, or communications team.

Start with a Self-Assessment

Take a look at where you are now with all the elements of your brand. Are you starting from scratch on a complete rebrand? Or, do you just need to hone in on some of your current efforts?

Then, take inventory of your current branding toolset. These reach across two main categories:

1) Messaging: Value proposition, writing style (AP, Chicago, etc.), voice, tone, language, etc.

2) Visual identity: Logo, tagline, corporate collateral, brand artwork (ads, collateral, signage, presentations, etc.)

Creating Your Guidelines

Keep in mind that this document exists to make the branding decisions of your employees, vendors, contractors, etc. easier—both currently and in the future. That means, when drafting your guidelines, you should imagine realistic scenarios (current and future) that your team may encounter. What efforts may be coming down the line? Are you producing anything new? Include it all!

While your branding guidelines should be clear and prescriptive, don’t make it harder for yourself by not allowing for some flexibility when needed. Your future branding needs may not work under such rigid rules, and that’s ok—just plan for those things. You also want to include a field for when the document was last updated and who updated it. That way, every change is accounted for. There should also be a main point of contact for the document. Not everyone can be the brand manager, so there should be one designated person who owns the document for your organization.

Put these guidelines on a letter-sized PDF so they’re easy to distribute. It’s also best if they exist online within a guidelines section of your website (which may or may not be public-facing).

Adoption and Distribution

The first step for implementing your guidelines internally is to get executive endorsement of the value of the guidelines. Your key stakeholders should be some of the biggest advocates for the brand guidelines document simply because of the unity it creates for your organization’s message. Consistency is the entry to great brand management, and a positive understanding of purpose is the goal.

Above all, make this document accessible to your team so no one has to work harder to get it right. Remember, this is a living document that your organization is in control of. As your organization changes along with your needs, this document can be malleable, too.

Our Branding Work with Every Body Texas

Every Body Texas works to ensure that every person in Texas can access safe, unbiased, high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare by funding and training healthcare providers in a way that increases access for clients. Take a look at our branding work for Every Body Texas, including naming and messaging (and a brand guidelines document!), in our visual case study:

Got a project we can partner with your organization on? Reach out—we’d love to chat.

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