A simply way to understand what brand guidelines are and used for is to look at the big brands around you and see what it is that makes their visual communication memorable.
Take a large brand like Ikea; they have a distinct typography with yellow and blue that is instantly recognisable to most people. This is no accident. Ikea use strict brand guidelines that keep their communications consistent throughout their many stores around the globe.
These guidelines are created in a document that give distinct rules on how all aspects of the organisation’s brand should be handled. This includes everything from the design of a logo and how it can be used, to letterheads, the look of a website, personal communications and how it all looks together.
In short, the brand should be consistent through all mediums and platforms and this document is created to reinforce them.
The brand guidelines or brand document help employers and employees properly communicate the message of the brand. It is used as a guide by designers, copywriters and marketers when they are developing designs or strategies as it clearly illustrates what can and cannot be used.
It is a strict code and is followed rigorously, because having a brand is one of the most important parts of your business and the consistency of this brand is essential. Deviation from this, however small, may confuse your customers and alter your reputation. So strict adherence to detail is important.
Designers have the best advantage from using brand guidelines as logos, fonts and typography, as well as images and photographs will be shown in exact specifications within this document.
Please read what are the goals of brand guidelines for more information on creating a document for your business.