You have new branding. Now what?
t’s always fun and exciting to imagine the endless possibilities when it’s time to rebrand your company or products. New logo, new colors, new fonts, everything! But what happens after your new branding is established? Sometimes this is the hardest part.
Implementing new branding could be one of the most daunting tasks for any marketing team. There are a lot of questions that go into a rebrand. You have a new look, feel and attitude, now what? Many of these questions can hopefully be answered by taking a deep dive into your new brand guidelines.
When we’re rebranding companies, we always think of the end execution. We make sure every piece has a useful and intentional purpose to make the brand shine. Every dollar you spend is a dollar put towards the success of the new brand.
Here are some things to consider when it comes time to implement your new branding:
Understand the “whys”
Brand guidelines, or brand standards as they’re sometimes called, are a set of rules for your branding that is meant to be followed by agencies, internal marketers and designers who are implementing the branding. A good set of guidelines provide not only rules but examples and rationale that help the reader understand the intent behind each instruction.
Like a math equation, when you can solve for X, you can apply that logic to other math problems. For branding, once a reader understands the intent behind why an element goes there, or why this font is used at this weight, it’s easier to apply the rules to marketing materials. This understanding is also a key factor in developing consistency throughout a whole brand.
Take note of the “hows”
Many brand guidelines will include art elements, image treatments and illustration styles. It’s important that those elements can be recreated effectively in future marketing materials. One of the best ways to avoid inconsistencies is to ensure that your new brand guidelines include a deconstructed “how-to” with each of these art elements and treatments. If there’s a color overlay for imagery, what color is specified? What transparency is it applied at? Is there an angle element? If so, what is the degree of the angle? All of these specific pieces of information may seem like TMI but will be crucial in keeping brand consistency.
Complicated illustrations or icons should also be deconstructed in your brand guidelines to help future designers understand the metamorphosis of the illustration creation. Are the illustrations constructed from a collection of certain shapes? Are all icon strokes set to be a specific thickness? A diagram or breakdown of that process will help designers recreate the style to expand your icon or illustration library.
The same goes for images and photography. If all images are to be the same color tone and brightness, knowing those color corrections and specifications is helpful for future designers, for instance. This is a great reference when choosing stock photography or shooting photos on set.
Design leading the design
Once the rules and intent are understood, there’s sometimes a hurdle to cross when developing the layout of the new collateral. Consistent layouts between many different types of marketing collateral can often be a make-or-break moment to a brand refresh.
One tip that we like to do for our branding projects is to use the brand guidelines as a canvas to experiment with layout designs. After all, the brand guidelines are essentially a brochure for your new brand. It contains all different types of information, lists, illustrations, photography, etc. Give a new brand a kickstart and design the brand guidelines as if it were collateral pieces.
What goes in the brand guidelines?
All too often brand guidelines are treated as a mediocre PowerPoint deck, seen only as a vehicle for delivering information. And that is all well and good until it comes time to implement those rules without knowing if the rules will actually work. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for a brand’s rules to just not translate well to real-life literature without some tweaking here and there. However, many unforeseen problems can be ironed out from the very start if rules in the guidelines were used to design the guidelines.
Does your new brand have big, bold photography? Use it in the guidelines! Feature full-page images within your guidelines as section headers. Why not? Does your brand offer sophisticated lines and delicate icons? Great! The guidelines spreads can be clean and bright and feature icons next to headlines. These layouts within the design guideline can offer future designers a a starting point to pull from. This upfront investment will likely save design hours and false starts when it comes time to design new collateral.
New branding is fun, exciting and yes, even daunting! Let your brand guidelines do some of the heavy lifting for you and your marketing team.
About the Author:
Emily Coplai is a Lead Designer and Partner at C-22 and has been with the company for 10 years. Over the past decade, she’s provided exceptional strategy, design, advertising & branding expertise to startups, established companies and Fortune 500 companies. Originally from Michigan, Emily graduated from Michigan State University in Advertising and Design and she loves rooting for her Spartans. Go Green!