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Stick to the Rules: Brand Guidelines

Stick to the Rules: Brand Guidelines

Would Barbie still seem like Barbie if someone decided that Barbie pink should be brown? Make Coke blue, and it turns it into Pepsi. Make UPS purple and orange and it turns into FedEx.

You cannot always count on your strategic partners, franchisees, or licensees to properly represent your brand. Make it easy for them to do it right. Develop a Brand Guidelines manual (sometimes referred to as a Brand Style Guide) to limit your exposure and enforce it. Consistency, consistency, consistency—across all touchpoints, all partnerships; this is how you maintain control of your brand identity for growth and expansion.

Faulty touchpoints dilute, distort, and damage your brand. It happens more easily than you think…

Imagine that a licensee or co-op marketer decides to stretch or squish your brand icon to better fit the space in a magazine ad… Or uses some dreadfully amateurish typeface for your brand name (picture the Nike swoosh with Nike typeset in Old English!). They have just cheapened you, bastardized your brand identity, and misrepresented who you are. And they have compromised one of your visual (and financial!) assets.

In addition to graphical brand design standards (Dos and Don’ts), your Brand Guidelines manual should detail your company mission, core brand values and message. It should be educational, user-friendly, efficient, and readily accessible to both internal and external stakeholders.

Make Brand Guidelines freely available to all your partners, and keep it updated.

The Internet makes it a snap to consolidate brand management communications in one place, and in an inexpensive and easy-to-up-date format. Consider developing a stakeholders’ extranet. Provide employees, vendors, and affiliates with user-friendly access to brand resources. Provide them with downloadable materials—logo and ad slicks, style templates.

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