Remember road trips past, before the emergence of GPS and smartphones? In spite of the bundle of maps squirreled between the driver's and front passenger seat, my father insisted on navigating by highway signs until forced to wrestle with one of those gigantic maps, concealing my entire view of the windshield.
Always, the journey is impossible without some sort of guide or direction.
Anecdote aside, the successful marketing of companies and organizations requires the same planning necessary for getting from Point A--brand chaos--to Point B--brand consistency. The first step of a successful plan is the development of a brand standards guide (or graphic standards manual, or brand style guide, or... you get the gist).
Every major organization has a manual to preserve corporate identity (check out those created for Jiffy Lube, the American Red Cross or the University of Delaware) and it's not uncommon for smaller businesses and organizations to follow a scaled-down version. These guides provide employees, management, customers, the media, the general public and other stakeholders with a common understanding of a voice, message, values, look, feel and overall identity.
The most complete guides include valuable company information, such as mission, tagline, key messages, target audience(s), editorial style, proper and improper use of the logo and/or brandmark, color palette and font specifications.
Regardless of where your organization is heading with its branding program, standards ensure consistent presentation and messaging. After all, if management can't decisively define the company's brand, how can customers be expected to develop brand affinity?