EST 1980
designer working in studio on brand guidelines and using laptop and smart phone

Nov 25, 2015

Why Your Company Needs Branding Guidelines

Watermark Coffee Mug
by Nicole Stiverson
Creating brand guidelines is difficult in itself, but what about after your company’s brand has been set? 
Oftentimes, after spending countless hours and dollars creating the ideal branding standards, companies run into the issue of brand bastardization.
Brand bastardization, or, manipulating the things that represent your business, can include changing the logo color, adding to or deleting content from the tagline, or even coming up with a different definition of the company’s mission statement. Besides this being a brand consistency issue, it is also a major headache for the legal team.


The most successful companies realize—and value—the importance of brand standards and guidelines. They also realize that, in order to be consistent, all employees must recognize these practices. Some even go so far as to have “logo police” to make sure the company brand is not diluted in any way.
What happens when brand guidelines aren’t regulated? Let’s consider the following scenario:
An assistant to an upper-level manager receives a request to send out an inter-departmental email notice regarding a new company policy. The email will be sent to all employees, nationwide, and “needs to be catchy.”
As the manager rushes to catch a flight, her assistant sits down to draft the email. With a tight deadline and the absence of his supervisor, he decides to make the following changes:
  • Changing the color of the corporate logo
  • “Stretching” the logo so it extends to the width of the email window (without also proportionately sizing it vertically)
  • Adding the words “We Promise” to the company tagline
After making any final edits and proofreading his work, the assistant accesses the staff email directory, sends the notice and heads home.
Fast forward to the next morning. Corporate Communications have been inundated with phone calls and emails from across the company—
“Hey, I’m creating a proposal cover and I want to use green for our logo on the front page…”
“I wanted to run by this concept for the tradeshow coming up. I see I don’t have to stick with the standard proportions for the logo, so I’ve scaled it vertically to fit into a narrow area…”
“This is Fran from Legal. We have a huge problem. We can’t use the word “promise” in corporate communication of any kind!”
And so on…


The above scenario all could have been avoided with the assistant having knowledge of the company brand guidelines.
Some corporations go so far as to have a brand standards “bible,” complete with everything from the spacing allowance between the logo and any other element to the acceptable length and weight of rule line under the tagline. For smaller businesses, a compact and comprehensive list of “Do’s and Don’ts” relative to logo, fonts, color palette and “elevator speech” messaging works fine.
No matter how basic or extensive, every company needs standard brand guidelines that are instilled into every employee’s mind in order to:
  1. Keep the consistency of the brand across all areas of the company.
  2. Make sure the brand is being conveyed correctly to internal as well as external audiences to avoid mixed messages and misrepresentation.
  3. Make your employees your best “brand ambassadors” so that they are all saying the same thing when asked the question, “So, tell me about the company you work for.”
Take the time to check how your company is being represented both within and outside of the office. It can mean the difference between becoming a household name and a confusing, potentially legal mess.
We’d love to hear about your branding dilemmas and/or successes. Tell us about them below!