The Importance of Following Your Corporate Identity Manual

Being creative is one of the most basic human needs. The reality is that there is a time and place to exercise your creativity and it is usually not when it comes to your company’s corporate identity. Sounds pedantic?

I have been in the brand-building industry since the days of DOS and trust me when I say that I have seen it all! From overeager techies who tried to show how clever they were with designing their presentations in Harvard Graphics (yes, there was a time when PowerPoint did not exist yet) to assistants who felt the need to design their own email signatures. Obviously in their own variations of blues and blacks and whatever shade of the HEX, Pantone, or CMYK. And how can you have a personality if you can’t use your own font version?

The reality is that not much has changed in the last thirty years when it comes to employees who want to show their immense ‘creative talent’. The only difference is that they now have the backup from ‘online experts’ who advise them how they should be doing it. Let’s have a look at what a corporate identity manual is and why it is vitally important to follow your company’s corporate identity manual.

What is a Corporate Identity Manual

Don’t know what a corporate identity manual is? Essentially a corporate identity manual is a document that standardises all the brand elements that will be used in the entire brand-building process. Depending on the size of your company, your corporate identity manual can be downsized or increased to add more detail.

For a small entrepreneurial company, a corporate identity manual of five pages is more than enough. I have worked on corporate identity projects like that of Tsogo Sun which comprised of 100’s of pages for each brand within the Tsogo Sun stable!

From the proportions of your logo, the colors of your logo, the layout of your adverts, and the position of your logo on corporate clothing or vehicle branding to the must’s and must not be on your website, social media, and any other application where your company’s brand is involved.

The Basic Elements of a Corporate Identity Manual

Below are the basic elements that should be in any corporate identity manual, no matter the size of your company:

  1. Logo: The proportions in which your logo should be, are vitally important. Also, list the various formats in which you have your logo available. The top priority is to have a logo in Vector format for future marketing suppliers to use. Vectors/line formats are typically created in programs such as CorelDraw. A logo that is only available in bitmaps such as jpg, tiffs of png’s is a recipe for disaster down the line. Also, document variations such as your favicon and icons which is an extension of your logo.

  2. Colour: If you are going to brand any item, the first question you will get is what is your colour codes. This could be Pantone, HEX, CMYK, etc. If you don’t use your colour codes each time you brand, you will have different results every single time. Define which are your primary colors and which will be your secondary colors.

  3. Fonts: Font families come in a variety of variations. Even the most basic fonts like Arial and Times Roman come in a variety of styles and formats (not that we suggest you should use these fonts!). Document what version of what font you have used and ensure that the specific font is in your corporate identity online library. These things have a way of disappearing over time! And make backups. Also specify which font variation is used for headings, subheadings & content.

  4. Stationary: Ensure that you document stationery items such as letterhead templates, emails signatures. Yes, these can change over time, but then you should change it in your Corporate identity manual first before you implement it.

  5. Promotional Items & Corporate Clothing: It might look as simple as falling out of the tree right now, but once you get someone new into the team, they might have their own ideas on how to use your logo on a pen, a shirt, or even a laptop bag. Standardise and document now, before you have regrets later.

  6. Advert Layouts & Content Marketing: Unless you are a large corporate concern, you will probably make use of in-house designers for your next advert. It is well worth the money to invest in a marketing consultation company to design your templates, and layouts of your advertising and content marketing material before you take matters into your own hands. And document the what-to-do and the what-not-to-do’s.

Why should you follow your company’s Corporate Identity Manual

Ensuring Brand Consistency

No matter how amazing you are at remembering detail, you are going to forget detail that should have been in the corporate identity manual, in a year or two from now. Or you are going to get a 2IC and there is nothing easier than to refer them to your corporate identity manual.

If you are serious about building your brand, you cannot afford to use different shades of your color, or different fonts. Or worst of all, allow people to use your logo in a format that breaks down the very strategy that you have planned for your brand.

Safeguarding the NLP of your Brand

If you have gone to the trouble of enlisting the services of a marketing communication agency that followed the correct brand planning strategy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) would have been part and parcel of the process. There is a psychological reasoning behind choosing a Gill Sans font as opposed to a Century Gothic. There is a reason why a certain curve was chosen for the advert design. NLP techniques such as modeling, reframing, mirroring, priming, and anchoring were most probably part of the selection process. By following your own ‘creativity’ you are breaking down all the investment that has gone into creating the corporate identity and with that the corporate identity manual.

Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is built through repetition. “It’s not inside, it’s on top”, did not become famous after 100 exposures. “Met eish ja” likewise became a household joke after thousands of repetitions! The more you repeat the same well-thought-out recipe, the stronger your brand becomes.

Empowering Employees

Can you imagine the Babylonian confusion if each employee tried his own form of creativity? The corporate identity manual acts as a style guide, making it easier to dress for the party in the correct fashion. No hidden surprises.

The Final Words on the Importance of the Corporate Identity Manual

When it comes to the importance of a corporate identity manual, there are infinite examples of brilliant and famous brands that have perfected it to the tee. Tsogo Sun is definitely a brilliant example and having been part of the team that have documented the Tsogo Sun Corporate Identity remains a privilege. McDonalds is another brilliant example.

Closer to home to could also evaluate what would happen to a school if there was not dress rules. Every child in the school would have used his or her own ‘creativity’ and it would have been one big circus with zero pride in the school.

Your next order for Corporate Clothing or Promotional items will most definitely be much simpler if you can provide us with your corporate identity manual. Don’t have one? Give AddVentures a call. They can definitely assist you.

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