Here is my personal Top 5 tips on creating online brand guidelines that really help both your UX team and deliver a consistent message. So here goes…
Building guidelines is always a challenging task, building guidelines for a responsive website with rapidly changing dynamic content, easy-to-use multi-width navigation on a truly scalable and highly transactional website is a step up. From a CMO perspective you need it to be brand aware; a CEO would want guidelines to be useful tools for your brand ambassadors and the sales director would need you to highlight features while your product team wants details, detail, details… and what about multiple brands, don’t get me started?
1. Leave no room for confusion
Ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand. Easy to understand explanations – try to employ easy-to-understand explanations and graphics to get your point across. Remember, a picture speaks a blah-blah-blah…
2. Inform and Enforce
Not only are you producing the guideline but you have to sing them from the tree-tops. It’s your job to spread the word and prostitute your vision and make everybody follow the rules, otherwise what are we all doing here?
3. Color palette is a must
My experience tells me this is the real clincher. External agencies and internal departments are always getting this bit wrong. So, to help them out and ensure that doesn’t happen – and get it right in the guidelines.
4. Skip through the overview
Although important for you to communicate, the overview of brand, including history, vision and personality is great for formulating your elevator pitch when scoping for new clients or speculating for a new job, but most internal people will skip over your perfectly scripted sentences. Waxing lyrical while you underlining the company’s core principles, their USP and all the work they do for charity wears thin to staff already embroiled in the brand. The same goes for “Writing style and voice” – this one is just brand wank for those not really at the coalface!
5. Obsessive detail
Have you spent hours poring over corporate identity manuals that showcase epic levels of obsessive behaviour? Good. This obsessive behaviour puts you in good stead for creating these how-to guides, as the best ones have details on their details.
As a UXer, concentrate on getting the grids spot on. And with bigger sites, focus on the digital experience, and steer clear of brochure guidelines. Ditto for Letterhead and business card design and the Typography palette – I love it, but it’s becoming less and less relevant in the higher end of the UX job market. Bigger brands should have copywriters so the writing style and tone-of-voice should be dealt with by these specialists.
A sneaky point 6
On last thing, and extra point if you like, include if possible template downloads or example files. This way, potential audiences can see your kit-of-part, your vision all assembled on one (or several if you’re going responsive) finished page.
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