The development and maintenance of brand guidelines for IT solution providers or VARs is an important, but often completely neglected, marketing must. Taking the time to develop brand guidelines, though requiring an investment in planning, time and expense, is critical to ensuring that one of your company’s most critical assets is safeguarded against misuse and misinterpretation.
As an IT solution provider, you face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining the integrity of your brand. MDF-supported campaigns often include multiple OEM partners and an interweaving of their brand, voice and message with your own. Adding to this complexity is the fact that you are often running MDF campaigns across a patchwork of agencies, content providers and other vendors. It’s easy to see how your distinct brand can get lost in the shuffle.
Hence the need for well-developed and -maintained brand guidelines. Strong brand guidelines bridge gaps in brand understanding and prevent misinterpretation of key brand elements—leading to a more consistent brand representation to the industry.
What should your brand guidelines include?
- The brand story — An overview of your brand’s history, vision, personality and key values.
- The voice — A conceptual description of your brand’s tone, including content samples that illustrate it.
- Logo usage guidelines — Standards for where and how to use your logo, including minimum sizes, spacing and what not to do with it.
- Color palette — Document your primary and secondary color palettes with breakdowns for print, screen and web.
- Type styles — Document your specific font, details of the font family and default fonts for web use.
- Image/photography styles — Define image style and photography that works with the brand and include samples.
- Business card and letterhead design – Provide examples of how the logo and font are to be used for printed brand materials.
Who should receive your brand guidelines?
It should go without saying that any agency, outsource partners, printers, web developers, freelance creatives, content creators or PR firms should receive your brand guidelines at the beginning of the relationship. They should serve as the creative bible for anyone developing assets around your brand—anything from websites to signage to social media posts. In an age where branded assets are extremely easy to access and share across innumerable media channels, properly maintained brand guidelines are a strong tool in helping preserve the integrity of your company’s essence in a digital world.
What do you stand to gain?
The benefits of good brand discipline are immediate and sustained recognition of your name, industry stance and capabilities. A strong, consistent brand can play a significant role in your growth as you look to evolve into a strategic, cloud-powered IT solutions and services provider.
Kathleen Lauchlan is Co-Founder and CEO of Lauchlan. You can email Kathleen at email@example.com.