November 12, 2015
Concrete brand guidelines are a necessity. They’re in place to create concise rules, and most importantly, to protect the integrity of the brand. While a brokerage firm might believe it has guidelines in place, often times it is solely up to the owner’s discretion to approve an ad or any other agent initiated marketing.
Some brokerage firms though, have guidelines in place in regards to how big a logo must be or what must be present on an agent advertising piece. The disconnect comes when these guidelines vary based on each individual project, which puts the integrity of the brand at risk.
For instance, when an agent creates an advertisement to run in a magazine, a specific set of brand guidelines should be given to the marketing agency responsible for the creation of the ad. These regulations should be turned over as soon as the agency begins work, as they will dictate the layout and design of the piece. If these guidelines are not provided, the ad will likely be altered several times in order to accommodate the suddenly “existent brand rules.”
A brokerage owner may say something along the lines of “make the logo bigger,” which is not a concrete set of directions for a designer. This alone will change the entire ad in terms of how white space is laid out, the space between objects, etcetera. Rather than protecting his brand, the owner weakens it, making the entire advertisement less effective. If the brokerage firm’s guidelines had been given to the agency initially, the entire situation could have been avoided; that is, if there were any guidelines to be given in the first place.
The main reason for not providing guidelines prior to the creation of a marketing piece is because the guidelines simply do not exist. A brokerage firm’s “brand rules” usually exist merely in the mind of the firm's owner or marketing leader who indiscriminately tries to enforce them without any basis whatsoever. This lack of uniformity causes a disconnect, since each advertisement is judged individually, and it hurts the brand as a whole because instead of portraying the uniqueness of the brand, it waters it down.
In one advertisement, the owner may say the logo needs to be bigger, while in another ad a few weeks later, the same size logo is mandated to be smaller. If you were to look up the definition of exceptional brand guidelines, that process would be the description of what not to do.
Brand guidelines should cover the following:
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