Brand Identity Documentation Delivers Consistency

One essential element of the branding process is documenting your branding elements to assure that people – employees and suppliers – adhere to the brand standards you have developed. For a very small enterprise, the documentation might just be several pages devoted to name and logo usage, color and type specifications, stationery design guidelines and your corporate mission, vision and value statements. As the company grows the guidelines and specifications grow, too.

Today I’ll introduce you to a couple of brand identity manuals that are comprehensive and well organized. Both are from larger but not well known organizations. Both have posted their brand identity manuals on the Internet for all to see. Thus, they are available to all suppliers and employees with any responsibility for maintaining a consistent corporate identity.

This is a growing trend with companies larger than a breadbox. Often they will be available only to authorized users through a password system, but because branding standards are not security sensitive, access for many are not restricted.

Brand Identity is important to institutions, too

First is the manual for Columbia College Chicago. They claim to be “the largest and most diverse private arts and media college in the nation”. (Sounds a little like the Bauhaus of the 1920’s.)

Kinda like the 1920\'s Bauhaus on the lake

Their introductory remarks bear repeating here because they quickly state the reason and usage for any brand identity manual.

“Columbia College Chicago’s brand identity manual has been developed to:

* enable the college to present itself clearly and comprehensibly to multiple audiences;
* allow the college to symbolize its character and attitudes, so that all units and programs at the college can communicate them consistently to all those who deal with the institution;
* provide a mechanism for individual units to obtain increased benefits from their marketing expenditure by capitalizing on the frequency/consistency aspects of visual identity; and
* provide the visual tools for the college to differentiate itself from its competitors in the marketplace”.

“The major Policy and Procedure elements of the brand Identity manual include:

* creation of flexible design elements within a grid design system;
* creation of logical and comprehensible schema for using the college’s marks and logo;
* enhanced ability to meet the required institutional branding objectives of publications, advertisements, and other communications vehicles; and increased benefits from marketing communication expenditures by capitalizing on the consistency and frequency of appearance of the college generally. Faculty, departments, or presentation units will benefit from the activities of others through the powerful effects of repetition in communication.”

Click here, Columbia’s Brand Identity Manual, to access it.

Note that it’s very comprehensive and contains more than graphic standards: there’s an extensive “Editorial Style Guide”, for instance.

Brand identity standards really vital for multi-nationals

Next is the global military systems producer, BAE Systems.

BAE Systems logo

This British-based systems manufacturer has divided their manual in to two parts, one for general informational purposes and the other for access to templates and other hands-on materials. When you go there you can only enter the general section unless you are authorized to use the templates.

Also of note is a section called “Brand Champions”. This is an International directory of BAE employees responsible for maintaining the company’s brand integrity.

Click on BAE Systems to access the manual, then click on the “general” line to see how they’ve organized and described branding elements. You’ll then find sections on “resources”, “identity elements” and “using the identity”. In the “identity elements” section are pdf files for various branding items and their specs.

All-in-All, two impressive manuals, two organizations whose brands will be strong and consistent over time.

Martin Jelsema

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