Your Brand Standards Document Ensures Brand Integrity

By John Oxford

A well thought-out brand standards document can be crucial to brand integrity. I don’t think we even have to delve into why this is important, as maintaining a brand for marketers is like raising children for parents. We try to build and grow it properly and let it go out into the public hoping it is well received.

So what goes into a brand standards document? And if you already have a brand standards document for your company, does it cover everything you need? With these questions in mind, here are 11 tips you need to create and execute a modern brand standards document to ensure your company’s brand integrity. I’ve included examples from Renasant to help you along the way. Happy branding.

1. Include a statement on protecting your brand. You’re a marketer, so you get why your brand needs to have protections in design and usage. This part is not for you. It’s for those that will use your logo and may take certain liberties with its placement.

2. Include a logo description page. This section lists your logo’s primary and secondary usage, as well as a description of color applications.

3. Provide description of tagline usage (if your bank has one). A description of your tagline and its usage needs to be well laid out because, much like your logo, it must be consistent in its placement.

4. Describe logo spacing, both with and without your tagline. Giving your logo and tagline room to breathe, especially when being placed in a sea of logos when you sponsor an event. And without knowledge of how a logo or sign is going to be placed, giving predetermined guidance can be the difference in your logo looking professional or being jammed on the back of last week’s 10K charity run’s t-shirt.

5. Provide logo proportion details. This part aims to prevent having your brand name sized wrong next to your logo. This happens more than we care to admit.

6. Be clear on unacceptable usage. We often think it goes without saying but people still love to stretch your logo. In this section, add some examples of bad stretching, incorrect layout, rotation and any other reoccurring ways in which your logo has been disrespected.

7. Provide details and points of reference for your partners and employees who want you use your logo.

8. List some of your departmental logos as your sub brands may often try to go their own way without clear instruction.

9. Give proper instruction on typography. You’ll thank yourself later.

10. Provide instruction on how to use your color palette. The more specific you can be, the better. Make sure you have a “stake in the ground” on acceptable colors for your company.

11. Give specific design patterns usage. Much like colors, your brand has a style, and you know what borders and graphics look best in your advertising. Makes sure to help provide guidance here as well. Note, this is an often-forgotten piece of a brand standards document.

With these 11 sections for your table of contents in a brand standards document, you should be able to cover most of your company’s brand use cases. There are other items you might include such as a request and inquiries page (so you can be contacted), a writing style guide to aid those that write copy for your brand and other items that could be specific to your brand. (Mascot usage, anyone?)

These 11 items are not exclusive to any brand, and I’m sure I’ve left off other scenarios you might want to account for in your own document, however this should give you a start if you do not already have a brand standards guide.

To hear more about brand standards guidelines and brand integrity management, check out this week’s Marketing Money Podcast where I am joined by Josh Mabus of the Mabus Agency.

John Oxford, director of marketing at Renasant Bank, and Josh Mabus, president of the Mabus Agency, are co-hosts of the Marketing Money Podcast.