For the third year in a row, Apple topped Interbrand’s annual list of best global brands, increasing its brand value by 43 percent to reach $170.276 billion. Apple owes much of its success to a marketing philosophy initially laid out by founding investor Mike Markkula, who emphasized a focus on core goals, maintaining a professional image and empathy with the end-user. Apple’s image has been carefully cultivated through faithful adherence to the company’s brand guide, which ensures consistency between Apple’s marketing messages and its visual presentation.
Follow the example of Apple and other successful companies by developing a brand style guide for your company. It will help you present an image that’s consistent with the one you want to project to your customers.
Your Logo Makes Your Brand
Apple’s first major brochure carried the message, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” emblazoned in minimalistic black font against a white background above a photo of a red apple. The brochure’s interior explained how the Apple II’s sophisticated design made it simple for the end-user. The company’s logo summed up this message of simplicity: a stylized apple consisting of just two shapes, a semi-round fruit with a bite taken out of it and a stem.
Apple’s logo has remained relatively consistent over the years, reinforcing the company’s ongoing commitment to its founding values. To help make sure this commitment gets communicated to customers, Apple issues a brand guide manual to its channel affiliates and Apple-certified individuals. Apple’s guidelines illustrate what a successful brand style guide looks like.
A brand guide lays out your company’s policy for how marketing communications personnel and company representatives should handle official use of elements such as your company logo, images, colors, type font and editorial voice. Apple’s guidelines cover everything from authorized logo and trademark usage to how an Apple reseller location should look different from an Apple Retail Store. The logo receives primary emphasis, with pages specifying which colors to use for signatures and backgrounds, how much minimum clear space must surround logos, minimum size, correct font and correct display on website and email headers and even shirts and vehicles. Nothing is left to chance, illustrating how closely Apple guards its company logo to protect its brand identity.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Creativity software provider Adobe is another company heavily invested in visual branding. Like Apple, Adobe’s corporate brand guidelines place primary emphasis on its company logo, laying out policies for authorized versions, size, clear space and color, with examples of usage for printed material, online media and trade shows. The guidelines also cover other key visual identity components, including colors, images and photographs, typography and logotypes.
Keeping track of all these elements can get complicated. To simplify the implementation of brand guide policies, successful companies use digital asset management software, which lets you store your company’s digital assets in a cloud-based virtual library. A DAM solution gives your graphic designers and marketing personnel access to authorized logos, images, and photos to ensure that your company always makes a good visual impression on prospects and customers.
Words Also Matter in a Brand Guide
While developing style guidelines for graphic elements such as logos and color design, it’s important to include supporting textual and verbal elements that also affect your company’s image, such as typography, writing style and voice and social media personas. Coca-Cola is a brand that illustrates how closely words and images go together. As the Coca-Cola Zero brand identity and design guidelines demonstrate, Coke’s logo is inseparable from its trademark Spencerian script, which dates back to the company’s founding and lies at the heart of its marketing identity.
Design Shack provides a checklist that summarizes the basics to consider when developing your company’s brand style guidelines. In addition to items already mentioned such as logo, colors, images, and typography, items you may want to include an overview of your company’s history and personality, letterhead and business card design, web design grids, guidelines for brochures and signs, writing style and voice and social media guidelines.