Just about everyone knows what marketing is. It’s often talked about and discussed in general terms and even paid significant lip service in most meetings. How do we get our company and services in front of people?

Marketing is a critical part of creating any successful company. But before you can even think of beginning a marketing strategy, you need to answer a vital question: What is your brand?

Your brand is your company’s identity. It is the factor or factors that identify you to your audience and differentiate you from other companies. It is the basic characteristics of your company, refined and put into a visual nutshell, if you will. In short, your brand is your image. This image is the experience that you give your customers, and what they know they can consistently expect from you.

To effectively present your company’s image to the world, you must first have a solid grasp of it yourself. When exposed to your brand, what kind of experience do you want to provide your audience? What is your company’s passion? What sets you apart from competitors? And what will make you easily and consistently recognizable?

Once you have formed your brand, and how you want to be identified, it’s time to put this image into play. This is where branding guidelines come in.

A branding guidelines document defines how to present your company, to ensure that your image is consistent across all platforms and to all audiences. This includes factors such as logo, colors, typography, layouts, and taglines; pretty much any element that will be used to represent your company. It will ensure that all outlets and media treat your company’s visibility the same way and that your overall visual message is consistent.

The branding guidelines document is essentially a guide that controls what the public sees from a company. Including specific rules will establish a unified and easily recognizable look for the company. This document can also help employees present a universal look and description of your company to customers and will also serve as a guide for designers. A good guide will establish design rules, and standard looks to adhere to for your logo, layout, and other visual factors. Creating this document will serve as a useful tool for every employee, allow for universal recognition of your brand, and create a great customer experience.