Many people don't know what a Corporate Standards Guide is or why it's important. I think the best way of explaining it is consider it a user's manual on your business's goals and what it stands for in the world market place.
I have really boiled it down to the bear bones, but really, it's a guide that a business or organization can turn to, time and time again, to remind themselves who they are and what their brand stands for. It can be a complete treasure. Especially in this day and age where there are distractions everywhere, tempting you to spend your budgets on paths that may not benefit who you stand for as a business or worse yet, compromise your long term plans.
In its physical form, a Corporate Standards Guide can be a single or multiple page document. Some people have them printed, others leave it in a digital form such as a PDF.
Depending on the number of pages, typically these kinds of guides have two main sections; the Fundamental Components followed by the Brand and Applications. The fundamental components start with your Corporate Identity (commonly known as your logo). It explains what it means, its variations such as the single colour version or the smallest size it should ever be, etc. These kinds of small structural guidelines really protect the logo, and believe me, there are plenty of threats out there! Such as over ambitious employees or suppliers who may suddenly decide adding a unicorn horn to your logo will bring in new business.
Here are some typical sections discussed in first portion of a guide:
- Identity elements
- Proportional measurements system
- Unique identifiers
- Supporting graphics
- Colour palette
- Do Nots
Following these sections, a guide will discuss the company Brand and Applications. This simply means; how will you present yourselves in the marketing world. On social media for example, will the logo be one colour? Will it be followed by your corporate positioning line. Some larger companies incorporate jingles into their brand. Think of McDonald's for example or Coca-Cola. They have a shot and sweet jingle that is played after each and ever commercial. Its critical to their brand and leaves a lasting impression subconsciously with the consumer.
The tone of voice in all your marketing materials need to be taken into account too. Will your copy in all your communications sound like George W. Bush wrote it, or will it sound like the Queen of England wrote it? What kind of company personality do you want to project?
Here are some typical sections found with the Brand section of the guide:
- The messaging
- Our positioning
- Tone of voice
Followed by the Applications:
- Traditional media
- Web & social media
- Portable displays
The Applications can be customized of course depending on the business. Perhaps you will never use a portable display, but you are often advertising on vehicle wraps. No matter what size of Corporate Standards Guide you decide to have created, remember it's a tool every small or large business should consider having. It protects all the hard work you build at the foundation of your company. Whenever you feel lost or have to include outside resources, it's an invaluable tool you can hand off in confidence; This is what we stand for and this is our company personality.