The brand guidelines document is the owner’s manual to your brand. Without guidelines that work for you, it can be hard to maintain consistency.
Four tips to staying on brand:
1. Keep the guidelines handy in all the right places.
Have a hard copy on display at your desk. A designated place protects the document from being buried under papers, thus making it convenient to reference and easy for your team to borrow. You may think about keeping a digital version in a shared folder as well.
2. Highlight, earmark, write notes in the margins—go crazy!
This document is a workhorse. It’s a tool to be used regularly. Give it some love, refer to it often, and leave your mark. Let the brand guidelines be the first place you look when you’re questioning a layout, messaging strategy or visual. Use it to gather consensus and move forward.
3. Dub thy Owner of Brand Standards.
Appoint one person to be responsible for knowing the content backwards and forwards—to own it. With some companies, it works to give this person the authority to both know and enforce the guidelines. To be the final sign-off and quality control “Brand Guidelines Police.” Patrolling or not, it’s key to have one person who knows it best.
4. When it doesn’t work, fix it.
Brand guidelines that work well are easy to follow. If it’s difficult to uphold them across materials, you may need to think about a revision. The guidelines may be too constricting for current needs, or lack clarity. Most commonly, a brand refresh or the introduction of a new product line or audience will trigger an update.