Branding Documents Help Ensure Brand Accuracy and Consistency
Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) marketing maven Marka and the rest of the FEI tribe discussed how an effective logo should derive from a company’s brand attributes. This week, Marka explains why a branding document is necessary to ensure FEI’s brand is accurately and consistently represented everywhere. Remember, fire=print.
One Casual Friday at FEI headquarters, Zoot showed up to the daily marketing meeting wearing nothing but a bit of toga that extended from waist to knees, wrapping around each leg. His torso was bare.
“You’ve taken Casual Friday too far, Zoot my friend,” Org said.
“You don’t like the new clothing item I created?” Zoot asked with disappointment. “I call ‘em ‘shorts.’”
“I call them inappropriate for the office,” Org said. “Go change, please.”
“Sorry,” Zoot said. “Nobody gave me rules for this ‘Casual Friday’ thing—how was I to know what I could and couldn’t wear?”
“Zoot has a good point,” Marka said. “People count on rules to guide their behavior. Some rules are OK to break sometimes, but most rules exist for a reason. This idea happens to apply to today’s branding discussions. Tribe, over the past few weeks we’ve constructed a new brand identity for FEI. All FEI promotions—from our print collateral materials to our O-site—must derive from this identity. This includes not only what they say, but what they look like.”
“I see a potential problem already,” Org said. “FEI is a big, growing organization with a marketing staff of four and counting. How can we ensure that every FEI employee with a hand in creating brand materials stays in line with the identity we’ve crafted?”
“By creating a branding document,” Marka answered. “This is an authoritative document that presents clear rules for how to—and how not to—represent FEI in marketing materials. We’ll distribute this document to all appropriate FEI staff, from designers and copywriters to the interns handling our O-cial media activities.”
“I understand the need for etched-in-rock branding rules,” Zoot said. “We can’t have our designer Desi tweaking our logo just so it fits his idea. Instead, his idea needs to fit the brand.”
“As FEI continues growing, so will the number of employees with a hand in creating our marketing materials,” Org said. “Without an authoritative document to guide newbies—and serve as a reminder for everyone else—we’ll end up with brand representations that miss the mark worse than, well, Zoot’s outfit.”
“We’ve talked enough about why a branding document is important,” Marka said. “Now let me show you what one might look like.” Marka scribbled on the conference room whiteboard with coal.
FEI Branding Document—Some Elements to Include:
Acceptable Logo Usage
- Colors: List all logo colors, including PANTONE, CMYK, RGB, and Hexadecimal values
- Rules for one-color reproduction
- Rules for using white space, positioning, reverse-out, etc.
Unacceptable Logo Usage
- Use as part of another logo or symbol
- Use a low-resolution version
- Change shape, stretch, or otherwise distort
- Change color of any part of the logo
- Change the logo font
- Use only a portion of the logo (e.g. just the “F” from “FEI”)
Identify primary and secondary color palettes
- Include PANTONE, CMYK, RGB, and Hexadecimal values
- Include guidelines for printing palette colors
Suggested color schema combinations and rules for adding additional colors
List acceptable fonts—primary sans-serif, secondary sans-serif, primary serif, secondary serif
Name and Tagline
Include acceptable variations, abbreviations, product trademarks. Examples include:
- FEI Kiln2000 must always include a trademark symbol
- FEI Logo may be used with or without the tagline Always There
- FEI Kiln3000 must always be used with the tagline Roaring Fires
- FEI is the only acceptable abbreviation. Alternates like FE are prohibited.
- When writing the name of our company, it must always be spelled exactly as Fire Enterprises, Inc. (include Inc, the comma and the period)
“This isn’t an all-inclusive list,” Marka said, “But it gives you an idea of what our branding document will contain. Having a branding document at the ready will allow us to easily solve internal brand disputes. More importantly, it’ll help us ensure that FEI always portrays a positive, consistent face to the world.”
“This is awesome,” Zoot said. “I’m glad I stuck around.”
“Wait a minute!” Org said. “Didn’t I ask you to put a shirt on?”
Next week: Marka discusses creating killer taglines.
Today’s FIRE! Point
Creating a branding document will help ensure your brand is properly and consistently represented across a wide range of promotional and marketing activities.
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