The term guidelines, which may also be referred to as ‘brand guidelines’ or ‘visual identity guidelines’ is used to describe a document that contains information about a company or organisations brand. Their purpose is to maintain brand consistency. The level of information held within the guidelines will vary depending on the needs. The guidelines may exist as an online resource, a digital PDF file or a printed book. Guidelines are used by both internal staff and external suppliers such as branding or marketing agencies.
Guidelines have evolved just as branding has evolved, and now a number of different types of guidelines are in use. In the 1960s and 70s guidelines had a focus on the more technical aspects of managing a company’s identity – including the size to reproduce the logo, colour specifications, type styles, the grid systems used behind page layouts, and most commonly used applications such as corporate stationary, uniforms and van livery. They would often carry titles such as ‘Graphics Standards Manual or Corporate Identity Manual – which at the time reflected the type of content they held.
Guidelines have evolved today to include more of the strategic elements of a brand including vision, mission, values, personality, positioning, brand narratives, offering, tone of voice.