Brand Standards and Guidelines: A Branding Consistency Tool by @iamronii

Photo Credit: TinyTall via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: TinyTall via Compfight cc

by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor

I have a client that I have been working with over 2 years on their branding and marketing communications and implementation. I did not design the visual identity for the brand but like to keep the brand message consistent. While I was working on another project this client Skyped me with this message, “quick question, what’s the font on my logo.” My answer, “don’t know, I didn’t design it and your original designer would never tell me.” Luckily, I had guessed Georgia and I was right (I’m getting pretty good at this font thing). But I see so many entrepreneurs and startups go through this same situation. They get a friend, freelancer, online contest website, etc. to do their logo and while it is great, they end up having to guess at all the other brand pieces because the person is no longer in business or it wasn’t part of the engagement (ahem, price) to put together a brand guidelines. Then, when you grow and you need the font or your official color you’re guessing and hoping to get close because you just don’t know.

Guess what happens after that? Brand creep. Brand creep? Yes, brand creep.

Brand creep is when you are guessing at your brand elements and you add this color and then this font and that color and one day you have 16 versions of your logo and none of them are the same. I see it happen all the time. I have had clients that have this issue and then end up spending more money with us to fix it. You know that DirectTV commercial? It is kinda like that. When you don’t have a brand manual, you guess at your logo color, when you guess at your logo color you accidently use a gang color in an ad, when you use a gang color in an ad, you get a knock on your door from a gang member, and when a gang member knocks on your door you go hide in your closet. Don’t go hide in your closet, get a brand guideline.

I kid. But seriously, they can really come in handy. You hear brand experts (like myself) preach all the time how important consistency in your brand is. You have probably seen me write about it right here on the blog many times. I really do preach about it because it is so important to be consistent with your brand. Consumers are extremely savvy but can be confused easily if you are all the time changing your brand around.

We have put together brand manuals upwards of 30 pages with details down to the brand philosophy, culture, mission, vision & values of the organization to official Pantone colors and fonts. And we have put together 1-page standards that give you the basics on the official colors and fonts. As long as you know the basics so that if someone walks into your project you can say, “here this is us” and they can move forward with the project without many questions saving them time and you money. It seems like such a simple thing but it really can help. So, if you are working with someone ask him or her for a quick guide on your brand elements. It doesn’t have to be pretty it just has to have the info. You can gradually build in your philosophy, culture and all the other stuff into it as you discover what your brand truly stands for.

Did you get a brand standards guide with your visual identity/logo? If so, how has it come in handy? If not, have you had an issue with guessing at your brand elements? How can a brand standards guide help your business?


Ronii Bartles – Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC

Ronii Bartles HeadshotRonii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.

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One Reply to “Brand Standards and Guidelines: A Branding Consistency Tool by @iamronii”

  1. Eli@coachdaddy

    A great read, Ronii. It’s also crucial to establish ways your logo cannot be altered – it’s amazing how many incantations of a logo can exist when people take creative license.

    It sounds nitpicky, but it will prevent your logo from becoming unrecognizable.

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