These are the blueprints for building consistency in your branding. After all, you’ve just invested all this time, energy and resources into creating a brand so you and your organization can set yourself apart from your competitors. Standards and guidelines set rules for ensuring you, your staff, your agencies and vendors can execute against your strategies and plans for your brand successfully.

Back in the day standards and guidelines were literally and figuratively the bible everyone followed. They became very comprehensive manuals on how to execute against the branding plan. These manuals, in many cases, became books, binders and heavy tomes that collected dust on shelves in every office, only opened when that time came to reference it. In that sense standards and guidelines are still references, but are now dust free (for the most part). Most are comprehensive online websites devoted to all of the very same documentation the books, binders and tomes had printed on their pages.

Not only is it important to you to have created a unique brand identity, but if you don’t follow through on your plans to promote it consistently, then you will have a very attractive doorstop. Standards and guidelines are part of that insurance policy you buy to make sure your new brand identity is effective and working for you in the way it was designed to.

Typical standards and guidelines include rules regarding basic elements of your brand identity like your brand name, your tag line, your logotype and your visual identity system. These basic elements deal with typefaces, fonts, color palettes, imagery and styling. Rules are laid out for use, improper and proper – what to avoid and how to manage your brand elements. Your visual identity system will provide guidelines for creating consistency to ensure that your visual presentation is maximized no matter where it appears.

Exemplars for use of your brand identity demonstrate how your visual identity system works in specific situations, trying to account for typical business applications. Exemplars include:

  1. Stationery (business cards, letterhead and envelopes) – for both print and digital forms
  2. Websites (usually demonstrated by showing typical home and interior pages)
  3. Online (email marketing, social media)
  4. Printed literature (brochure types, posters, flyers)
  5. Signs (directional/non-retail)
  6. Retail environments
  7. Uniforms
  8. Fleets

Before creating these exemplars its wise to conduct an audit of touch points where your staff, your vendors and your customers come in contact with your brand identity. Once you complete this list you’ll have a better sense for the kinds of exemplars that are appropriate to demonstrate your brand’s visual identity system.