Brand books are good for business
Let’s talk a bit about brand books, and why they are good for business. First of all, we can agree to disagree – but a logo is not a brand. And, a style guide is not a brand book. These are two different publications, which we generally merge together. What we’re talking about here is what we refer to as ‘the whole iceberg’. One is good for consistency (style guides); the other inspires greatness (brand books). The logo itself is the tip of the iceberg.
Thinking differently about brand books.
Working with lots of different brands; naturally, we see (and create) quite a few identity style guides and brand books. We’re often supplied with documents and toolkits to either review and improve, or put to use. These range from highly useful and informative, right through to boring pointless nonsense. Honestly, most people might not know the difference or really care. But, ultimately if your logo is the steak, a good guide book is the sizzle.
Here our aim is to highlight the key difference. To give you some perspective on; ‘How to know if your brand document is a flimsy charlatan or a comprehensive direction’. For many organisations, a style guide is a document solely for the direct use of the marketing department, and the information doesn’t necessarily concern anyone else in the business. Where we want to change your mindset is; a brand book should be critical for everyone in the business because this is where the branding rubber hits the road.
In other words, say you accidentally left your 'brand book' on a bus... And, unfortunately, a competitor has picked it up - what damage would they be able to do with it..?
(A) Replicate the colour of your letterhead printing? or
(B) Clone the entire heart and soul of your brand down to its DNA?
*If your answer is A we need to talk
This is because at a base level; it’s a reference tool to maintain brand consistency. At it’s absolute best; it’s an all-encompassing bible of inspiration. For the vast majority we receive, these are quite often merely an uninspired template filled with irrelevant specs and arbitrary examples – especially when it’s out of date or fundamentally basic design from the get-go.
In part, this happens because many mainstream designers often think of ‘branding’ as only what it looks like. A shallow face-lift. We think of brands more as a living thing; personality, tone, core values, mission, vision, culture, purpose, customer, story, goals, behaviour, hierarchy, competitors, point of difference, systems, flexibility, direction, and strategy. These are things which positively impact the business far more than a logo, shift the sales dial, and helps customers connect with why the brand exists.
A style guide ensures that your identity looks consistent, even when you have different teams and people working on communication, marketing, design and sales.
A guide to everything that everyone in the company does, and what the customer takes away from their interaction with the company or product, from beginning to end.
The content laid out in your brand book should leave no stone unturned. If it's relevant to you, your customers, your goals - having it documented, actionable, and made clear to everyone involved provides a competitive advantage.
What good is a guide that doesn't guide you?
A sceptical client once said, “Why would I invest in something that’s just going to gather dust on the bookshelf?” At the time, this narrow-minded view couldn’t see the bigger picture, and didn’t quite understand the potential – but, it did flag to us; not everyone understands the impact a (good) brand book will make on a business.
So, what are the benefits? What is this guide really all about? Done right, thought-out, made specifically for your business, and understood by the whole organisation; a brand book will…
- Document your brand guidelines
- Establish a platform for what brand success means
- Solidify your purpose and uniqueness
- Tell your brand story
- Unify your personality and tone
- Provide direction for communication and initiatives
- Achieve design consistency and cohesion
- Rally your team around your purpose
- Present examples for a uniform brand system
- Distinguish your brand from competitors
- Clarify your vision, values, and mission
- Remind everyone of what makes your business different
- Keep your on-going messaging on-point
- Be a good source of inspiration for new ideas
- Ensure that what your doing is relevant to your brand goal/s
- Protect the strength of your brand
Want your version of this?
We love this stuff; enhancing and creating brands is a big part of why we exist. You could say; it’s our jam! We’re looking forward to making many more brand books.
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