The Zen of having a Brand Identity Guide

Anyone who struggles with Powerpoint can relate to the following story…

Before I became an expert in branding, I worked at a bank called ABN AMRO as their Director of Marketing. Back in those days, I used to create presentation material using one of Microsoft Office’s ubiquitous tools called Powerpoint. I remember trying with all my heart to make nice looking materials and always falling short of the fancy looking brochures sent to us from our Headquarters in Amsterdam. The materials they sent were always slick, just like the materials I used to collect from the Chicago Auto Show as a kid. I had brochure-envy. Big time.

Little did I know at the time, our Headquarters had an internal team of Graphic Designers and Creative Directors who made the material look impressive, succinct, on brand and consistently professional with a unified message. It took me a while to convince my boss to ship me off to Amsterdam for a month to “shadow” these creative people and see what magic wands they were using to make such beautifully designed materials.

After 2 minutes of working with a Creative Director and ABN’s brand guide, I realized what was missing, and why I couldn’t create materials the way I wanted. I did not have access to the brand identity guide and graphic design programs like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The creativity was there; I just needed the tools to bring it to life.

Needless to say, I completely fell in love with Graphic Design and this brand identity guide. In fact, every day I was training with the Creative Directors, I came back to the hotel to practice and locked the brand identity guide in a safe at the hotel when I went to sleep. I was hooked!

Moving ahead four years, for almost all of my clients, we create brand identity guides ranging from 3 to 100 pages long, depending on the size and branding requirements of the firm. Here are some reasons why Brand Identity Guides create such Zen for our marketers and clients:

1.) Consistency. It is a well-known fact that for a brand to resonate with your audience, it must be consistent. If you change your logo, then it may not be recognizable by your clients anymore, and they will not identify you amongst your competition. An identity guide will ensure your brand elements are consistent all the time, regardless of who is creating the marketing material.

2.) Set standards. A brand guide tells you (and anyone else that works with your brand collateral) exactly what color, typography, vocal tone, and logo marks to use for various situations. No more guessing games and wasting time trying to figure out if you are using the right color, logomark, and fonts.

3.) Position your company for growth. Setting yourself up for brand success at the beginning allows you to pave the way for future growth. When you take the time to build the foundation, what follows will always be stronger.

4.) Help your employees. Having brand guidelines ensures your staff are using the right blue, the right font, tagline, and logo. It also means that the branding is accessible to everyone and, if your Marketing Manager is out of the office, someone else can step in and execute marketing materials with the guide.

5.) Your collateral will look better. Let’s face it; we can all tell the difference between a well-designed brand and one that lacks substance. When you have a professionally designed brand and stick to your guidelines, your factsheets, presentations, and websites will shine and be remembered.