I just want a logo. Why do I need a brand manual?
Have you ever built any furniture? A shelf, table, or even a chair. There are so many pieces, both big and small. You place everything on the floor. But, where do you even start?
You know how the furniture looks like; you saw it at the store, maybe you are looking at how it appears on the box. Would you be able to build it without the help of a manual? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, having a manual giving you clear instructions might help you assemble it correctly, speeding up the process.
How about technology? A phone, a computer, a game console, or even a car. All these things have manuals. Are you one of those few people who take the time to read it? Or are you like me, who wants to start using it right away? Then, sometime later, you find out you haven’t been using some cool feature because you didn’t read it in the manual? It was just a piece of paper in the way. I’ve had so many “Oh my God! I didn’t know I could do that!?” moments. I could have been doing that since the start if I had at least given a peek at the manual.
Thankfully, a brand manual (or brand guideline) instructs just like the one that came with the shelf and the phone. You could do fine without one but boy, are you missing out on your brand’s full potential! You could even be harming it without even knowing.
So, what exactly is a brand manual?
To put it simply, your brand manual is a guide on how to use your brand correctly.
It’s a set of clear rules that tells you what you can and can’t do with your brand and brand elements.
As designers, we create brand manuals because we want to see you succeed. While we are working with you on the project, we are making the design decisions. We already know what to do and what not to do with your brand’s image.
We make it seem easy because we are good at what we do (modesty aside, of course), and you trust us to do our best job.
Now, think about what happens once we finish the project, and we send you a google drive link with all your brand elements.
You see a folder with your logos. Inside that folder is another folder with your logos on RGB and CMYK. And inside those folders, you have more folders! .png, .jpg, .svg, .ai… We are only talking about the one version of our logo, by the way. What if your brand also has 1, 2, or ever 3+ versions?
Then you open the fonts folder. You see, maybe two folders with two font names. Inside those folders, you see the font’s name followed by regular, bold, italic, bold-italic, semibold.
What does it mean?
You still haven’t even opened the other folders. What is going on!? Why so many folders?! How do you know what logo to use? What color? What font? Are you even going to use ALL OF THIS!?
Well, yes. You will eventually need to use everything we send you on that link.
Let’s say you start playing around and try to design a post for Instagram, but the artwork doesn’t look like the mockup we showed you while presenting the project. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an idea or a guide on how to use all those elements correctly?
In the same way, you hire a designer to manage your social media or printed arts. How can you be sure that the designer is doing a good job? The designer is doing an okay job, but it’s not quite similar to the examples we showed you when we showed you the final brand image. Wouldn’t it be nice if the designer had an idea or guide on how to use those elements correctly, optimizing your brand?
Ah! That would be nice. Having a brand image that looks consistent and easy to recognize would be very nice.
Take a look at some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to spot an Apple product or ad without even looking at the apple? Or how easy it is to recognize a Nike ad even though they don’t stick to specific colors or styles? But you see the photo and the messaging and say, “Ah, yes, that’s Nike.” Or you see a billboard with a red background and a silhouette of a bottle. You already know it’s Coca-Cola.
You can recognize those brands without looking at their logo because they follow their brand manual.
Some brands even have their brand manuals on their website. Have you seen MasterCard’s? Have a look.
All these big brands care about how their brand looks. And they care A LOT!
But why do they care so much? How bad would it be if they didn’t follow the guidelines? I don’t think they want to risk not following their brand manuals.
So, here are five reasons why you should care as much as they do:
2. Happy audience.
3. Loyalty and trust.
4. Makes your brand attractive and easy to recognize.
5. Avoid misuses that can harm your image.
We need to stand out but in a good way. Have you heard the saying “nobody notices when you do something right, but everyone notices when you do something wrong”? Sometimes bad publicity is just bad publicity. Better safe than sorry.
Bonus: Following your brand manual shows you care about us designers.
Once we give you your brand, it’s your responsibility to keep your brand image intact. Give the manual to any designer, print shop, or social media manager and make sure they follow it. They should do fine with all the information.
Be the Kevin Feige of your brand. Share that vision and unity and, slowly but surely, you will see it bloom.
And as a shameless self-promo, if you need help with your brand’s image and want everyone to see your brand’s full potential, we are here for you.