Everyone makes mistakes – but you really, really don't want to make a mistake when it comes to creating and sharing your brand. If your brand guideline is inconsistent or awkward across your content, then your message will fray and soon fall apart. Sometimes what seems like little mistakes can turn into major headaches over the long term.
Here are 5 brand guideline mistakes you need to avoid from the very beginning.
1. You Don't Know the Font Your Brand Uses
Here's a simple rule: If you (or anyone else) are going to be publishing the content, you need to know what fonts to use. Assuming you already have a logo designed, then your company and graphic designer presumably spent a lot of time picking the right font or fonts to represent your brand – perhaps even creating a unique font all your own. That font is now linked to your company. You don't need to use it in every type of writing, but it should be there on your website headers and your email logos and every other piece of content you are putting out.
Note: If a lot of thought was not put into your font style, this is another serious mistake. People, even other businesses, will judge you immediately by how your words look, before actually finding out what they say.
2. You Don't Know What Colors Your Brand Uses
This is the same issue as the font problem, but with color – which is slightly trickier. You probably have files and names that help you mimic the font. But how do you mimic a color, especially if it was chosen before your time? Viewers will associated very specific logo colors with your brand (Coca-Cola is the perennial good example of this). If you use whatever colors you want for your content, viewers will screech to a halt and may even assume it's not your work.
3. You Don't Know Your Tagline (Or You Don't Have One)
A tagline, especially when you are trying to emphasize the quality of your materials, is important to a brand. It's a sign-off, an easy word association, and even a jingle if you want it to be. You can put it on emails, display it on banners, sneak it into blog articles, and use it as your Facebook Timeline photo. This is a versatile that you need to know to brand effectively. (Unless it's a very bad tagline: Then your mistake is not changing it – a point to keep in mind for all these errors).
4. You Don't Use a Style Guide for Employees and Partners
Even if you avoid all the above mistakes, how do you know that employees and marketing partners will do the same? In real life, a lot of the people developing your content may not have a clue, and you can't do all the damage control yourself. This is why you absolutely need a style guide detailing tone, providing logo graphics, and generally telling content creators what to do/not do.
5. You Don't Tell People What Your Business Does
There's another thing that you brand should be: Informative. A newbie mistake is spending a whole lot of time on fonts and colors and lines and ultimately creating a brand logo that they love – and that no one else can understand. The brand should clue people into exactly what your value offering is. If you keep having to explain the brand instead of letting the brand explain itself, you need to make it more informative.