Create brand guidelines that inspire your workforce

Brand guidelines tell your people what to expect from your organization. Here’s how to craft them effectively.

Your brand is a promise that you’ll live by defined values. Those values should be shared in inspiring and imaginative ways so your employees can connect with them and have pride in them.

How do we help our brands to thrive internally? How can we unlock exciting opportunities to shape how it feels for our people?

Brand guidelines are a necessity

Brands are governed by guidelines that create consistency and familiarity while maintaining clear standards. These guidelines should tell your people how their communications should sound, look and feel, and they should be designed so anyone can pick up and use them.

Guidelines shouldn’t become a straitjacket, though. They should be a set of principles for all to follow. When crafted well, guidelines create a consistent tone, save time and money by providing an agreed formula to follow, and speed up the communication process so people don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.

It is possible to create guidelines that are engaging enough to achieve consistent communication, practical enough to prevent frustration, and adaptable enough to offer flexibility and creativity. It’s never too late to reconsider your brand guidelines and give them a restorative refresh.

Here are a few points to consider:

Define constants and variables

Establish your must-haves as well as the elements of your brand that can be flexible and fluid. People need to be educated on what they can and can’t do.

Acknowledge that some constraints are necessary, but give people the freedom to adapt and adjust. Review your brand guidelines regularly. Are they too prescriptive and uncompromising? Perhaps it’s time for a refresh. Here are 36 great brand guideline examples to look at.

Allow opportunity to play

To maintain motivation, communications should be kept fresh and interesting. Consider how external brands achieve this. Take a look at how TV networks shape their brands and explore the unconventional by continually creating fresh and stimulating programs.

Brands like Adobe, Nike, Google, Coca Cola, Halifax, the Natural History Museum and even local groups play around with their brands to mix things up, have fun, prompt emotions and stand out from the crowd.

Get others involved

Audiences have the power to not only share a brand and its values, but to get involved, develop ideas and have some creative fun, too. By moderating constraints and encouraging interaction, your employees can connect and be inspired to join in.

Remember: It’s more than just a logo

We’re not just talking about your logo or color palette here—think about your brand as a whole. It’s about the essence and feel, character and style, spirit and personality. Look for exciting opportunities that exist way beyond the obvious.

Moving on

Brand guidelines play a key role in helping to deliver effective brand management, sharing your narratives and supporting the promises you make to your people both internally and externally.

But they must provide direction that can be adapted across channels, platforms, services and experiences. People need to understand why they exist, but they should have a degree of flexibility. Brand guidelines shouldn’t be a stranglehold that leaves everything feeling lackluster and limp.

Flexibility, usability and creative autonomy are central to success.

Will you be brave enough to challenge the status quo?

A version of this article first appeared on AliveWithIdeas.

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