At first glance, it may be difficult to imagine how visual brand guidelines will help your business branding, as the benefits are not immediately apparent. However, you should think of a visual brand guideline as an insurance against a particular crisis that could waste resources — an identity crisis.
Although an identity crisis will not pose a serious financial problem for many businesses, it could be one that will cause unnecessary burden to your marketing team, or confusion to your audience.
How lack of visual brand guideline can damage a business
Here is a simple case. Without a visual brand guideline, your internal social media team might be unclear on how the graphic designs are supposed to be laid out. Consequently, the user experience gained from your social media and other media — say, your website — will be inconsistent.
A customer with eyes for detail may likely question the professionalism of the business, just because the designs on two separate channels are inconsistent. It would take several months to undo the design mistakes and this demands extra work for the marketing team. Similarly, confusion over brand presentation may reduce the effectiveness of brand awareness campaigns.
Graphic design is more than just for beauty; it serves to offer experiences
Let’s compare the homepages of two competing companies in the tech sector — Apple and Microsoft. Both companies offer technologies and services that are more or less in the same category — computers, devices, software, and media services.
However, upon visiting each homepage, you experience the brands differently. Apple’s homepage has a minimalistic layout, with bold contrasting color combinations like black, white and grey. Yet the homepage often juxtaposes the brand colors with occasional bright color tones to display the screens. Product offering displays are kept to a minimum of less than ten; the copy descriptions are concise and catchy.
In contrast, Microsoft’s homepage is similarly laid out to look like a generic business homepage. With a clean design and a lot of white spaces, the homepage offers more room to showcase a greater range of product offerings compared to Apple, with each category or theme laid out in different sections. More variety of images can be found here, representing Microsoft’s customers in their daily setting — whereas it’s rare to find a picture of a human being in Apple’s homepage.
What the design means for both companies
Clearly, the visual brand guidelines of these tech giants are strikingly different. What is more interesting is the specific audience that the designs are trying to reach.
For Apple, its products are not restricted to a superficial demography such as age, gender or location. The specific design caters to people with shared attitudes — those who value aesthetics as well as performance.
For Microsoft, their graphic web design approaches people who are in the business and family (home) setting. Microsoft celebrates community rather than unique individual expression, and offers a wide range of products to cater to as many people as possible
Graphic design is experience design
A visual brand guideline not only dictates the color schemes and logo specifications to be used across all media. It should also explain the main purpose behind each design choice, from the emotions evoked to the representation of ideologies.
Empower your brand design and encourage consistency with our Visual Brand Guideline service here at Island Media Management.