Why are brand guidelines important for startups and established businesses alike?
I remember when I was first introduced to brand guidelines. I had assisted my father in building our advertising, design and marketing agency and we had proven our worth working for the travel insurance arm of a local travel operator. As a result we were invited to pitch for their window campaigns covering 460 plus retail outlets and guess what?… we won. I was just 18 and the client was Thomas Cook.
Nick Brittan | Marketeer
What an experience. This small family run business had gone head to head and overcome large London agencies and for good reason too. My father was no new comer to the retail world and had been the creative force behind The British Shoe Corporation, a retail Goliath in its day but sadly no more. I had my part to play too with the introduction of what was being termed a colour layout system (CLS) – Crosfield Lightspeed.
Brand management do’s and don’ts
Lovingly nicknamed the doorstep, this weighty document covered every conceivable scenario from typographic specification through to logo usage. No room was left for doubt. If you wanted to do something not covered you had to present it to the marketing director for approval. If your idea was in the don’ts you didn’t have a chance of getting it passed.
It may sound restrictive, however Thomas Cook’s brand guidelines had been professionally and thoughtfully produced to very high and exacting standards. It actually made the job easier and we did push the boundaries and get approval on many occasions. It was this progressive thinking that they liked about us.
So where are the brand guidelines today?
Nowhere to be found as far as I can tell. Astonishingly for such an important and useful tool they are a rare animal. The importance cannot be under stated. Brand guidelines tell suppliers how to reproduce your logo and present your brand. They give visual examples of what can and what cannot be done. This may include stationery layout and specification through to vehicle livery and signage. Even clothing. It seems we are missing a crucial tool.
Does a logo need guidelines?
This all depends on wether you want to build a brand. If you are not worried about your logo being stretched, the font being swapped or the odd colour change then I would say no you do not need brand guidelines and good luck.
This thought on logo design expands this debate further.