Whether assembling finely crafted Swedish furniture or implementing brand elements for your company or client, it’s important to follow the instructions.

Famous last words

You’ve had your eye on that awesome Ikea shelving unit for months. It would be the perfect addition to your living room, and you’d finally have a place to display your Star Wars action figures with pride!

After a quick trip to Ikea, you’re back with a surprisingly small box for such a large shelf. You’ve cleared space in the living room, and it’s time to build! Box open: check. Forty-eight pieces of wood-like panels: check. Hundreds of fasteners, hinges and wood dowels: check. Instruction booklet: nah, you’ve got this.

It’s a shelf, how hard could it be?

Directions, please

Four hours, 325 curse words and three grey hairs later, you stand back and survey the fruits of your labour. The 48 wood-like panels are now loosely ‘assembled’, with assorted cracks and scratches, and tottering above the two handfuls of leftover fasteners. You’re absolutely convinced someone must have photoshopped the image in the catalogue, because in real life, it has a noticeable tilt and it wobbles a tad.

Whispers creep forward from the back of your mind—”You should have read the instructions.”

Your style is your brand

That fancy shelving unit could have been appealing and functional. Now, you wouldn’t even trust it to hold a book.

People have the same lack of confidence in a poorly constructed brand. A brand communicates an implied understanding so it must be delivered carefully, thoughtfully and strategically. As Jerry McLaughlin notes in his Forbes.com article What Is A Brand, Anyway, “your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.”

Company brands are much the same. They are more than a visual, or a ‘voice’, they are the combined experiences, understanding and value their audience has with them. Branding, in this instance, includes the company logo, website, sales materials, social media, personal interactions—lots of pieces and a myriad of parts. Sound familiar?

To be effective, be consistent

To build and maintain a solid and cohesive brand experience, instructions for brand application are essential—this is where brand guidelines come in. Think of them as a brand’s instruction booklet, created to prevent unnecessary tilts or wobbles.

Guidelines come in many forms and include varying degrees of information, but at their core they all outline the following:

  • A base understanding of the brand – what the brand is, what it does and why it’s important
  • A listing of the core elements of the brand – logo, colour palettes, typography, various applications
  • An outline of “dos” and “don’ts” when applying the brand

It’s important to remember that your guidelines are just that—guides. They don’t need to restrain creativity, but rather help nurture a cohesive vision.

Follow the instructions

Whether you’re developing or maintaining a company brand, it’s essential that you understand and follow the instructions. When your Swedish furniture tilts and wobbles, you can fix it in an afternoon, but repairing a brand could take years. It’s far easier to do it right the first time—your brand, your audience and your Star Wars action figures will thank you for it.

Our expert team of creatives would love to work with you in crafting your brand to be compelling, strategic and memorable. Reach out to us and get started today.