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How to Create Effective Branding Guidelines for Your Interior Design Business

branding for interior designers business of interior design digital marketing for interior designers how to grow a design business how to start an interior design business marketing tips for designers Aug 30, 2023
How to Create Effective Branding Guidelines for Your Interior Design Business

Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. No matter how amazing your products or services are, you’re beholden to consumers, who must choose you over your competitors for your business to succeed.

It’s natural to think your work should speak for itself, but that’s not always realistic. If you want your interior design business to thrive, you have to make efforts to raise awareness, connect with a target audience, and promote what you have to offer.

There’s more to it than planning marketing campaigns: You need to develop your brand in order to create a consistently positive experience consumers can rely on.

You’ll come across many branding tips that help you to define your brand identity and how you want consumers to feel, but you can’t afford to neglect branding guidelines that dictate the practical applications of your brand strategy. What are branding guidelines, and how can you create effective standards and practices for your business?

What Are Branding Guidelines?

Branding, in general, focuses on the relationship between a company and consumers. More specifically, it addresses how a company connects with consumers and persuades them to make purchases, remain loyal, and share their experiences with others. This relationship has three essential elements:

  • Building awareness of the brand and its products and services
  • Creating compelling value propositions
  • Delivering the experience and outcomes consumers expect

Branding determines consumer perspective and value, and every aspect of your company and operations contributes to your brand image and identity — in other words, how the consumer public views you. 

For an interior design business, this could mean positioning your company as innovative, capable, creative, and committed to customer satisfaction. After all, you’re designing the spaces where people will live and work, which is an incredibly personal proposition.

Branding guidelines are the rules and standards that support your branding strategies and define the practical elements of consumer interactions with your company. They typically include parameters for visual elements and written copy, with the goal of creating cohesive and consistent images and messaging as the basis for a recognizable and enduring brand identity.


Creating Guidelines that Work for Your Interior Design Business

A lot of details go into creating branding guidelines that support your overall business strategy and align with your core values

The process begins by determining your target demographics and conducting research to understand their desires, preferences, and pain points. This gives you the best opportunity to connect with an audience, engage their interest, and position yourself as the solution they need.

You need to consider not only what appeals to prospective customers but also what makes your brand different from, and better than, your competitors. The best branding tips will help you understand your strengths and play to them with the branding elements you choose.

Branding guidelines will necessarily focus on the forward-facing elements of your operations, including visual elements like your logo and website, the content of your copy, how your team interacts with consumers, and so on. 

However, you’ll also need to account for the essence of your brand: what you stand for, your identity, and your purpose. It’s incredibly important to use these core values and goals as the foundation for your brand strategy and the driving force in developing brand guidelines.


Visual Elements

Because the interior design business focuses largely on visual appeal, it’s essential that the visual elements of your branding are attractive, contemporary, and appealing to your target audience. 

One of the first things many brands focus on when it comes to guidelines is logo use. Your logo is likely to become the most recognizable symbol associated with your brand, so you need to clearly define parameters for logo use in both print and digital mediums, from color to sizing to placement for different applications. 

For example, the following visual elements should be standardized:

  • Colors and color palettes 
  • Typography (fonts, type size, line space, kerning, etc.)
  • Layout and design rules, such as the use of white space

You’ll also need to create rules for visual elements like photos, graphics, and other imagery, including acceptable content and how and where to use images. 

No detail is too small when it comes to defining your brand through visual elements. The more consistent and cohesive you are, the more control you have over the impression these branding elements make on your audience.


Brand Identity

Your brand image and identity aren’t solely concerned with the visual elements that define your company and your outreach efforts. You also have to consider the content of your messaging and the underlying values and goals that inform your branding efforts.

Visual elements are certainly a large part of branding for interior designers, especially in this digital age when most first interactions with your brand are likely to occur online. However, branding efforts must also convey the characteristics and essence of your company.

In practical terms, this means crafting guidelines for messaging based on your company's core values and mission, as well as the specific goals you’re trying to achieve. 

Along with visual elements, you can create standards for consistent written copy. Include not only preferred grammatical elements and a cohesive tone but also content that’s in keeping with the foundational tenets of your brand.

How do you want consumers, and more specifically, your target audience, to see you? What characteristics and core values do you want to convey through your messaging? How do you want consumers to feel after interacting with your brand? Answering these critical questions can help you define your identity and influence branding guidelines.


Making Guidelines and Templates Accessible

Even the best branding tips will do little good if you don’t implement them effectively within your organization and beyond. Once you finalize your guidelines, you need to make them accessible.

This starts with creating a system for digital asset management (DAM). You want brand guidelines and assets to reside in a centralized location where your team can access them as needed for diverse applications. Your DAM system should also include essential employee resources like written guides and video training materials.

You’ll also want to make some resources available to outside parties, such as content contributors, vendors, and media outlets. These should include guidelines for written content, logos, and other visual elements, as well as contact info for your in-house brand team or brand management firm. You should lock any shared documents to prevent editing.

Of course, it’s not enough to just provide these resources; you also have to make sure guidelines are followed. This requires some amount of tracking to confirm implementation across channels, correct errors, and ensure consistent and cohesive branding.


Embrace a Flexible Approach to Branding

Complete branding overhauls are rare and always a bit dicey since you don’t know how loyal customers will react to a new brand image. That said, times change, companies expand, and brands must grow and evolve to remain relevant.

The best approach to interior design branding is a flexible one. You want to remain true to your core values and mission in order to create an authentic and consistent experience for consumers, but you also need to account for changing societal norms, consumer preferences, design trends, and business growth, particularly if you expand into new markets.

It’s not unusual for interior designers to start out offering only design services but eventually segue into the product marketplace with branded home goods like furniture and accessories, hardware and fixtures, scented candles, dishware, or wallpaper. 

The expansion allows you to offer added value, increase brand recognition, and grow as a business, but your branding strategies and guidelines may require some adjustment as a result.


Why Is It Important to Create Branding Guidelines?

Before you can develop an effective brand strategy and implement standards for branding guidelines, you need to understand why putting time and energy into this task is so important. 

Branding guidelines do more than just help your employees and partners understand your expectations; they also help you maintain a familiar brand image and consistent experience for customers, creating a level of recognition and comfort that encourages brand loyalty.

Comprehensive and clear branding guidelines help you to streamline your operations, engage target demographics, and support business strategies by creating a seamless and inconspicuous framework for messaging. 

As an interior design business, you should carefully control your image and reputation. This relates not only to the content of messaging and visual elements but also to how they are delivered.


Sample Brands Doing It Right

When you think of the Coca-Cola brand, you might focus on the taste of its products, the color of its packaging, or the loopy script of its logo. Consumers across the globe recognize these branding elements immediately.

However, there’s more to creating an enduring brand than just products and imagery. Effective branding also creates an emotional experience for consumers, and Coca-Cola has worked hard to develop a brand identity that is inclusive, fun, and joyful. This is what Coca-Cola wants consumers to feel whenever they think about its brand or products, and every aspect of its branding supports these goals.

Nike is another global brand that has effectively developed recognizable brand elements, such as the iconic “swoosh” and the “Just Do It” slogan. The company has built a reputation on innovation and inspiration with a focus on making customers feel strong, capable, and empowered (when using Nike products, of course).

You might not think branding interior design business guidelines are in the same league as these global enterprises, but the basic principles are the same. For an example, a little closer to home, consider Gensler, one of the most famous and expansive interior design brands in the world.

In operation since 1965, this architecture and design firm currently has 53 locations worldwide and over 7,000 employees, not to mention a roster of clients that numbers over 4,000. 

The company follows a core mission — “to create a better world through the power of design” — with a diverse team of professionals encompassing a global platform. As a result, its branding highlights a worldly array of contributors, topics, and imagery.


Get Everyone on the Same Page

Ultimately, branding guidelines provide a set of standards that support your brand identity, streamline workflow, and create consistency for consumers. They ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to messaging and presentation so that you can more effectively promote your business.

Are you looking to launch or relaunch your brand? Check out our newly launched course "Build Your Brand Identity Beyond Logos: How Interior Designers Can Use Branding to Build a Successful Design Business". This is a 1.5 IDCEC credited course and is $49!

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