Many brand founders find themselves tearing their hair out when their teams and agencies aren't on the same page. Wasted ad spend, reshoots, reworks, and content that just misses the mark eats into their budgets, tarnishes their brand image, and confuses their customers.

But sometimes this can happen because founders make one mistake – they have no brand guidelines, but if they do have them in place, they often barely scratch the surface, limiting themselves to aspects like logos and color palettes instead of speaking to how to express their brand's essence across different mediums.

Here's what the stats say:

  • Only 25% of companies say they have formal brand guidelines that are strictly enforced.
  • 21% of brands say their brand guidelines are not written anywhere and are instead communicated verbally.
  • 27% of companies that have brand guidelines say they don’t enforce their guidelines regularly.

So, it’s not surprising that 39% of companies say they struggle with content that’s been created that's off-brand.

When it comes to more brand clarity for your partners, here’s where to begin.

Set the stage right:
From your paid media agencies to UGC content partners, photographers, influencers, creators, and copywriters – everyone needs to march to the beat of the same drum. So simplified brand guides with your logo, color palette, and typeface aren't enough. The breadth of your brand guidelines needs to extend to your brand story, positioning strategy, brand voice, values, and explicit guidelines detailing how these elements translate directly into your social content, campaigns and digital expression. But brands that win don’t just let these documents sit on a drive. They’re a point of reference at onboarding, briefings, and even creative reviews.

Don’t forget – video is everything:
As we shift into a world that’s demanding an endless amount of video content, videographers, producers, and editors need to be specially briefed on how to balance the nuances of their brand's positioning strategy and aesthetics with their creative partners’ unique creative expression.

From filming style to color grading, transitions, logo placement, captions, motion graphics, music, sets, styling, and so much more, every little detail should consistently reflect your brand's identity. As your video production costs soar, it costs not to get this right. It may be time to develop more comprehensive video brand guidelines.

Get them clear about your customers:
In the same way that you're acquainted with your best customers, everyone involved with bringing your brand to life should be too. Often, brands misstep by not sharing their customer personas with their brand partners. This means the important dialogue of 'who are we creating for' is more often than not overshadowed by 'what are we creating’.

Keep the score:
Looking back, it's essential to compile a record of past missteps, instances where the brand was misrepresented, and the reasons why. Allow those painful recollections of shoots gone awry, misaligned social copy, or UGC assets that seemed to be from another planet to transform into a valuable guidebook. This guidebook should not only serve as a beacon for what went wrong but also highlight the creative, copy, and content that truly resonated and succeeded.

Such a record should evolve into a playbook detailing the do's and don'ts for embodying your brand. It's imperative to integrate this playbook into the onboarding process for new partners, helping them discern what's off-brand and why, steering them away from potential pitfalls. By doing so, you ensure that past mistakes pave the way for future successes, allowing the brand to thrive.

As an emerging brand founder, you’re already stretched so thin; the last thing you need is another headache to deal with. So when it comes to others bringing your brand to life, why leave things to chance? If you’d like to have a chat about creating, extending, or revamping your brand guidelines, you’re welcome to get in touch.


Author: Effie Asafu-Adjaye
Effie Asafu-Adjaye is the Founder of Beautiful Sparks. Beautiful Sparks helps beauty and fashion businesses get more fanatics in love with their brands, by refining their brand strategy, messaging, branding, content storytelling, and community-building strategy. Read more about Effie here. Linkedin | Youtube