Whether your brand is traveling down the hall to a colleague's office or across the globe, you need to safeguard it for the journey ahead. With freelancers, marketing agencies, internal teams, and many others using your brand in communications and content, it's easy for inconsistencies and misuse to arise. A brand identity kit can help by providing disparate groups and individuals with the tools and information they need to uphold your brand consistently. While every brand identity kit looks different, here are a few essentials to pack in yours:
Anyone that touches your brand needs to understand your target market and why your brand matters to that audience. Without this knowledge, it’s challenging for people to communicate their message in a way that’ll resonate with the intended audience. Start by providing a positioning statement, or concise description of your audience and how they perceive your brand. Keep it simple, but memorable, honest, and unique to your market. Then, share your brand promise. What are you committed to delivering to your audience? What aspirations do you vow to work toward? Lastly, communicate your unique value proposition. Include a detailed explanation or simply include your brand’s tagline - sometimes a short, catchy phrase says it all!
Just as a person possesses characteristics that define who they are, a brand has traits too. Other companies may share similar characteristics, but none of them are quite like yours. Capture the key brand qualities that humanize your brand and describe its distinct personality. Thinking about your brand as an actual human can be a helpful exercise. What are his or her “always traits” and “never traits?” In other words, your brand could “always” strive to be optimistic, trustworthy, and witty, but “never” foolish, insulting, or dishonest. Whatever the case, remember that while you should put this down in writing, it’s just as important to practice what you preach.
Just as your brand has unique character traits, it also has a look, feel, and visual identity that plays a role in the recognition and perception of your brand. Put your brand’s visual identity into words. What mood, feeling, or emotions should your brand elicit from your audience? Be descriptive and provide examples of appropriate visuals, along with general do’s and don’ts for visual treatment. This is your opportunity to highlight acceptable styles for any and all visuals such as lifestyle photos, stock imagery, videos, and graphics. If you favor well-lit, realistic photography over illustrations, make those parameters clear. And, give people access to your approved brand assets. They absolutely need a digital repository to pull creative from and reference for inspiration.
Logos and wordmarks
While some assets used to communicate your brand are somewhat subjective, your company’s logos or wordmarks leave little to no room for interpretation. However, it is up to you to define what proper use looks like. For starters, give people access to your logos and wordmarks. Include applicable high-resolution formats (i.e., TIFs, PNGs, PDFs, and JPEGs). Also include all logo and wordmark variations like vertical, horizontal and tagline versions. Protect against incorrect colors, pixelation, and modifications by detailing use cases and instructions. For example, provide standards for white space surrounding your logos and wordmarks. Set limits for how small or large they can appear to avoid unrecognizable or ineffective reproductions. Lastly, make it visual. Show people what incorrect usage looks like. Seeing how bad a distorted logo or non-complementary background color looks, helps drive home the message.
The colors that represent your brand are what make your brand instantly recognizable. Take Coca-Cola for example; You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t associate red with this global, household brand. To ensure that everyone uses the perfect red throughout communications, Coca-Cola doesn’t say their brand color is “red.” Rather, they assign a CMYK, RGB, and PMS color code. As such, your brand identity kit must include your brand's color identifiers. Take care to include your brand's primary colors, as well as the secondary colors that support and complement your main color palette. Lastly, provide directions on when it's appropriate to use colors, combinations, and palettes.
While often overlooked, the fonts you use to communicate your brand contribute to its identity - the people, products, and culture that it embodies. Include your brand font (we use Helvetica Neue) and an approved backup or two in case your font is unavailable. Using a single typeface across all communications gives your brand, down to the look of the words, consistency. Think through all use cases and provide type treatment guidelines around size, hierarchy and font weight. For example, you may want to specify approved font sizes for blog headlines versus subheads and body copy. Or, you may have strict typography rules for advertisements and sales collateral. Strike a balance; you need to give creatives and marketers some creative freedom to push the envelope but also control for the most critical elements of your brand.
Your brand identity kit should always include at least one point of contact that can answer questions and provide support. Make sure to include contact information like name, email, and phone number, but also details like job title, location, and any special instructions. Lastly, think strategically about the questions you receive. Often, this feedback signals holes or clarifications that you can use to improve your brand identity kit.
Once you’ve created your brand identity kit, make sure it’s available to those who need it. You can provide your brand identity kit in any convenient format, such as a shared document or webpage with information and links. The important thing is that your brand identity kit (and assets) live in a central location that’s easily accessible. The unique needs of your organization will determine the best solution to help you centralize, store, and manage your kit and assets. For some organizations, a simple webpage and links to a file-sharing solution do the trick. For others, a digital asset management (DAM) solution is best. One benefit of a DAM system is that it provides a single source of truth for the assets and information that power your brand - wherever it travels.
For more information on if a DAM system is right for you, check out this article on digitalassetmanagement.com or contact a Widen advisor today to learn more about our powerful DAM system. Godspeed!