When you’re running any kind of business you're also running and developing a brand - whether it’s been developed over time or consciously designed. In any industry, you’ll have competitors and it’s your branding that works to separate you from the crowd.
A strong brand that accurately conveys who you are and what you do can help to develop online awareness and ultimately drive sales, but to achieve this, a set of company-wide brand guidelines is essential. That’s what we look at in a bit more detail here.
So, What Are Brand Guidelines?
Also often referred to as ‘style guidelines’, brand guidelines represent a vital component of any successful marketing campaign or online presence. They set out clear information about the branding that you worked so hard to create - offering a definitive version of how things should look.
Brand guidelines typically come in the form of a document and are used to guide designers and other employees as to how the different brand elements should be used across the business.
Within these guidelines, you’ll find details about:
- Logos - Detailing the correct sizes & alternatives
- Fonts - Showing the correct sizes & look of both body and header text
- Color Palettes - Highlighting what precise colors can be used in print & online materials
- Tone of Voice - The tone of voice must be consistent with company values
- Stylistic Details - Determining the overall style of branding and where it’s used
A great deal of thought goes into creating these brand guidelines. That’s because it requires not only a talent for creating eye-catching designs that reflect who you are, but also an in-depth understanding of the business. Crafting brand guidelines isn't simple or quick, but it’s most definitely worth the effort.
Why Are Brand Guidelines Necessary in eCommerce?
In order to achieve success in eCommerce - as is the case in most sectors - you need a strong brand identity that people can relate to and recognize. Brand guidelines help to achieve this, as they focus on the key element - consistency - so that a coherent image and public persona can be established.
Even at the outset, before anything has been created, brand guides help direct the process, as they help to clarify and accentuate your business’s selling points. They are also a key part of communicating your personality, purpose and value to potential customers.
To learn more about eCommerce branding, check out this resource on branding and designs tips for eCommerce.
Tone of Voice Needs to be Consistent
Let’s say you’re running a high-end online clothing store and you have strict rules about the tone of voice used in marketing and on social media. You might have a smooth sales-focused tone throughout your marketing, so anything that’s too different is going to dilute that message.
Tone of voice is just one aspect, but it illustrates how every single component needs to be consistent with the overall branding. No matter who’s creating the content, branding guidelines eliminate ambiguity by clearly detailing what’s required.
What Brand Guidelines Help You Achieve
In addition to all of the above, there are a number of benefits that come when brand guidelines are established and made available. Let’s take a look at a few of them now.
Professionalism is Maintained
Imagine a scenario where guidelines haven’t been provided and a team member from within your eCommerce business creates a social media post. Without guidance, the person in question puts some inappropriate messages and jokes that aren’t aligned with your intended public image.
A faux pas like this could result in your brand being seen as unprofessional, which can lead to losing customers and sales. Professionalism matters, and brand guidelines help to preserve it by providing a centralized set of rules that should be followed in instances like this.
Brand Awareness & Recognition is Improved
Perhaps the most compelling reason why branding guidelines should be introduced is brand awareness and recognition. In order for a viewer to start recognizing your branding, it typically takes between 5-7 exposures for a cognitive link to be made.
However, if the online messaging from your eCommerce business is disparate, meaning that it’s different at every touchpoint, you’re going to dilute your presence to a point where no one can identify you from your competition.
Ideally, you want people to be able to recognize your company and what you offer, simply by seeing your logo and brand colors - as you can with major brands like Coca Cola, Google and Samsung, to name a few.
Sure, we might be talking about industry giants here, but the principle remains the same - if their branding was all over the place, it would damage public perception.
Consistent Branding Happens When Everyone Is On the Same Page
Achieving a strong brand identity is the promised land when it comes to running an eCommerce store and it’s eminently more possible when everyone is on the same page.
Brand guidelines ensure that everyone in your organization is creating a uniform branded experience for customers across all touch-points, resulting in messaging that reinforces your company image every time it’s seen. With brand guidelines, you will always have consistent and uniform brand design across all channels.