Brand Guidelines are often a fairly disliked document. I get it - the word “guidelines” implies rules and rules are one of the things, people, creatives want to break. The truth is that Brand Guidelines are really important for a successful growth of a startup. In this article I want to share my thoughts on why that is.
The investment you make into branding is more valuable than the monetary value you paid for it.
Let’s start with an example.
One company invested a lot of money in branding. They hired one of the top creative agencies in the world. They got a beautiful, high quality brand identity. It was excellent.
After a couple years the company went through internal changes and it looks like their guides got lost in translation. That resulted in quite a significant brand mis-match. Even the typefaces they were using on social were not right.
So, why invest thousands into the branding process (and creative font licences in this case) to then simply forget about it?
If one of the founding members of your startup has a design background you’ve got a head start in this game. They will definitely understand the importance of the guide document and why you should keep it up to date. If you don’t have a designer on board however, but work with the external creative agency it’s worth speaking with them about the upkeep and see if they can help.
As a rule of thumb, especially in the startup world, it’s worth having a meeting every 3 months to just look through the guides and see if there's anything worth updating.
Simply put, the investment you make into branding is more valuable than the monetary value you paid for it.
You had a team of prime creative minds look at your industry, assess the design trends and audience insights and construct a visual system that builds a specific image in your consumer’s mind. On the surface it’s the typeface choice, colours, shapes & compositions but as a foundation it is a system based on data, dressed in a set of design rules.
The story about white socks
The Brand Identity System will help you establish a visual language your audience will associate with you. Helping to stay coherent and build affinity, especially on social.
Like, my colleague in white socks.
One of my colleagues used to always wear a black pair of pants and a black pair of sneakers with white socks. Whether that was a confused fashion choice or not, I’m not sure. But that doesn’t matter. One day he wore black socks to the office - I think it might have been after Christmas. I heard someone say to him - “Hey man, I nearly didn’t recognise you without your white socks today!”
This very lighthearted story illustrates well why consistency, especially in marketing is a powerful force.
When your branding project is finished and your creative agency hands over the finished document it’s time for you to take the ownership. It’s a tool for growth.
Startups evolve and grow and with them grows their brand. New applications, new situations, new campaigns, new markets.
Today every brand is digital by default so chances are, you might be looking at hiring a full time designer in-house. Depending on your insourcing budget and hiring experience you might go for someone in a more junior or mid-level.
The designer you choose to hire has a big task in front of them. He or she is responsible for continuing and developing the brand vision of the creative agency.
Startups evolve and grow and with them grows their brand. New applications, new situations, new campaigns, new markets. It’s a big challenge for a designer to keep up the brand design excellence that was set forth.