I have written brand guidelines for a couple of organisations and both times have felt that I was starting from scratch and have been a bit lost. I thought I would write some key questions I have found useful when starting to think about your brand guidelines.
Who will use the guidelines? This will dictate how much detail you need to go into. If it is just you and one other colleague who both already know the brand it will have a lot less detail than guidelines to be used by multiple external agencies who know nothing about the brand. If in doubt I would always include more information just case more people need to use them in future.
How do I want this brand to be seen? This is working out the most important things people need to know about your brand. This can include what your organisation does, what your tone is and what your aims are as an organisation. It will also dictate the kind of images you use and how things are designed.
What sections should I include? Some things should always be included like how to use the logo, how to use the colour scheme and fonts. However other things will vary depending upon what channels you are using to communicate with supporters. Brands that are more online will need templates for social media visuals but more offline brands will need a poster template. Also each channel of communication you use will need a slightly different tone of voice and this will need making clear.
How much can we realistically achieve? This will depend upon budget, size of team, time capacity and skills within the team. You don’t want to spend ages creating detailed guidelines for something that will never happen.
What are my aims? This will dictate how much emphasis you put on different areas. For example, if your main aim is to increase your social media then make sure this focus is reflected in your guidelines. Alternatively, you might want to streamline your blog, so make your blog design and tone instructions extra clear.
What has been successful in the past? Writing new guidelines is a really good opportunity to analysis what is working and not working for you. With new guidelines can come new procedures and practices. Just make sure everyone reads the guidelines and takes on these changes.
Who are my audience? This dictates everything: which channels you will be using, what kinds of marketing materials you will need to design (social media gifs to leaflets), which colours will work, what images you use, what fonts and what tone you use. So make sure you are clear on what your current audience is and the new audiences you want.