The importance of brand guidelines

When it comes to building a brand that people remember, consistency is king.

If you just take a look at some of the most recognisable global businesses of today and just how quickly you can name them within a matter of seconds ⁠— you’ll understand just how poignant building consistency is.

From the glimmering golden arches of McDonald’s to the iconic half-eaten piece of fruit that represented the ever-popular Apple — even the mere sight of such logos can instantly evoke emotions within the consumer that inspires action… and that’s all down to the brand. 

So, what is a brand? Well, the basic definition of a brand, as outlined by the American Marketing Association, refers to the name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers. It’s about what distinguishes McDonald’s from the thousands of its fast-food competitors. It’s what makes consumers flock to the nearest Apple store to purchase their next mobile phone. 

The building of a brand requires making decisions on various features,  from the design of the logo, colour palette and typography to values, tone and taglines. Of course, all of these things take time. You’re likely to have gone through multiple rounds of amends to perfect your brand logo, had numerous meetings (and cups of coffee) to define your brand values and spent a significant amount of your budget on printing your freshly branded brochure. It would be a damn right shame if, after all this time, resource and effort put into defining your brand, it lacked consistency over time. That’s exactly where brand guidelines come into play.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines are the holy grail of your brand. In a nutshell, they consist of a set of tools and rules on how to apply your branding elements. From spacing between texts, to which brand colours to use and when — these guidelines help everybody, from designers to writers to external agencies, in knowing how to use brand elements to create various marketing materials. 

Brand guidelines and style guides are an integral component of your marketing, whether you are a large, long-established organisation, or a young and fresh-faced startup early on in the journey. Read on to find out just why brand guidelines are so important.


Consistency in your visual communications

Brand guidelines are essential to ensure the identity of your brand is consistent across marketing materials and channels, in relation to both graphics and language used. From the email signature a potential customer sees to the business card you exchange at a networking conference, your brand identity impacts the perceptions your target audience have of your brand.

Ensuring the consistency of your brand identity via rules and instructions helps communicate to others that your business takes pride in the details, makes it instantly recognisable as well as reliable. And according to Forbes, presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23 percent. So it really does pay to ensure your branding is spot on at all times through the use of brand guidelines.

Set the rules and standards for your brand

Guidelines enable you to have control over the way other people use your brand, ensuring the visual appearance is always of the highest standard, reflecting your brand as it should. Brand guidelines should make it clear to users how various brand elements should be applied in order to ensure consistency.

As businesses and teams grow and more stakeholders are involved in processes and projects, brand guidelines become even more important. Even when staff and marketing personnel come and go, the rules set out in the document ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to communicating the brand identity. Likewise, when working with external agencies and suppliers, it’s important to have a set of rules in place that provides instructions on how your brand should be presented to the world. 


Make your brand recognisable 

This is perhaps the most obvious reason why businesses need to spend time creating and maintaining brand guidelines. The consistency that guidelines aim to ensure means that over time, brands will become more recognisable, helping to bring in new customers and build trust in your brand.

While, of course, brand recognition doesn’t happen overnight, keeping your brand consistent will allow it to be more recognisable and easily distinguishable within both your industry and target audience. If we just look at Google as an example, its consistent use of its brand colours has made it one of the world’s most recognisable brands of today.

Perception: Make a good impression 

Just as your individual personality traits and character quirks make you so uniquely you, your brand identity is the special recipe that enables you to shine and stand out from the crowd. And let’s face it, with the digital era making it easier than ever before to launch a business, this crowd is busier than ever.

Whenever you communicate your brand, whether this is with customers, employees, suppliers or investors, it is so important to build a consistent perception of your brand.  Your brand guidelines, which outlines any do’s and don’ts for your brand, will ensure that your communications are in line with your brand identity, generating the right perception with your audience. By being consistent with how you present your brand, you will do well to build recognition and brand loyalty in the long term.

Need help developing guidelines to help get your brand on the right track?  For a free branding audit and consultation, send a request to