I have written many brand guidelines in my time, and I have also worked from many. My best piece of advice? Treat them with a grain of salt.
Brand guidelines are documents written with lots of rules and regulations on how to use various brand elements to ensure consistency in the presentation of a brand so it always looks the same.
Gee, ‘always looks the same’. Sounds a bit boring; however, perfect if boring is the brand image you are going for though.
Today, in this ever connected world, a brand identity needs to work across a multitude of audiences via a wide array of channels. To best achieve this, a brand needs a considered flexible approach to its use.
This is where a brand manager with an understanding of design is better suited to consider how best to use (or, sometimes, break) the rules set out in a brand guideline versus a marketing manager who generally follows the rules.
These guidelines should only ever be treated as that – a guide. They can’t be viewed as unbreakable laws because the world in which brands live is not clear cut.
So let’s look at a scenario: your organisation has sponsored a race car team and as such get the space on the door to put your logo. Now, the style guide states not to rotate your logo (based on a very good assumption that a logo not sitting straight often appears like a mistake), however the logo doesn’t look right in the space available. So, what do you do?
Do you put the logo on straight as per the rules or do you angle it so it matches the natural lines of the car, looks faster and integrates with the race teams own angled paint job?
It’s a no brainer –you bend the rules a bit and place the logo on an angle. Sure this might be ‘breaking the rules’, but in this instance a considered application of the logo achieves the aim of what all these rules set out to do: project a positive brand image.