A 501(c)3 client was so excited to use their new logo for apparel they began sending screen captures of proof files pending final approval to local vendors to get ready for an upcoming event. They received their new t shirts, pens, and local event banner around the same time. All three items had different art, different fonts, and different colors. This all to common story illustrates the critical need for brand identity guidelines.

Rolling out a new logo as part of a brand identity strategy should be a very intentional and diligent process to introduce your new brand identity to customers, vendors, referral sources, associates, family, friends, and internal staff. A brand development professional should never release logo files without a thorough training about the logo, brand, and brand identity guidelines. Carefully prepared brand guidelines and a little training can help avoid missteps like the one described above. Brand guidelines assure that everyone involved in the organization is sharing the same information and messaging and accurately utilizing the powerful new branding tools that have been developed.

Brand guidelines bring value, consistent messaging, cohesive visual representation, and helps everyone involved with your organization understand the mission, vision, core values, and objectives of the organization in a fresh new way. Brand guidelines, as part of a new brand identity roll out, are a great opportunity for some PR, and fresh new purposeful contact with customers and business partners.

Sound branding guidelines will include every bit of information about the new logo, graphic elements, typography, color, and ancillary items such as photos, illustrations, icons, symbols, layout and how each of the elements will be used. It should also include strategic messaging such as narratives, taglines, support statements, key phrases, and words all designed to deliver cohesive messaging and perception of the organization. Anyone using the brand elements including logo files should receive a copy of brand guidelines and sign a contract to adhere to guidelines without deviation.
Branding guidelines should include the following segments.

Logo usage
• A description of the logo files and usage for each
• Individual files for logo and name mark should be available in a wide variety of approved formats for differing applications
• Usage guidelines including placement, sizing, scaling, color, and white space
Font Usage
• Approved font families including those in the name mark and complementary font applications should be clearly outlined and defined
• Samples of each font and approved formats for usage in the context of size, layout, application, and manufacturing process
• Acceptable web font substitutes
Color Palette
• Brand guidelines should include an approved color palette to include all Pantone, CMYK, RGB, HSB, and web color specifications
• Color palette should cover color usage in the logo, typography, color elements, layout elements
• Customized color treatments such as color overlay, the interaction between colors, and acceptable shading of colors should be clearly outlined with samples.
Ancillary Graphics
• Approved visuals such as photography, illustrations, and other visual elements such as icons, and display typography will follow guidelines. A provision for who controls graphic usage should be included. The brand manager should approve all ancillary graphic elements.
Brand-specific writing
• Keywords, phrases, tagline, and statements regarding mission, vision, and core values, should appear in the guidelines
• Guidelines should include history, foundational rationale, and appropriate usage for written communications

All staff should receive clear and specific training on the guidelines. All vendors and media agencies who are given access to branding elements should also receive training. Business associates, referral sources, and others involved in the organization should receive a summarized overview of the new brand. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out to others to share the new brand and give an update on the organization including why the new brand was necessary and how it impacts the company.

Brand guidelines are critical to the success of a new brand identity rollout and will help ensure that the brand is managed appropriately.