A Brand Manual’s significance according to Christina Elwing
Want to learn how to take charge of your brand and ensure brand consistency? We interviewed Christina Elwing, brand strategist of Skånetrafiken, to tell us about what is essential in creating ease and efficiency in all communications.
Tell me about Skånetrafiken’s mission.
Skånetrafiken's mission is to offer sustainable travel to anyone who wants to travel in, to and from Skåne. In order to accomplish this, we cooperate with Skåne's 33 municipalities and a number of contracted traffic companies that run the traffic and also are responsible for local marketing. In addition, we work with suppliers of vehicles and weather protection, but also different types of services.
What is a brand identity challenge that Skånetrafiken may encounter?
For everything to be connected and recognized by the same sender, we need clear guidelines for what our brand represents and how it should be expressed. The challenge is to get everyone, who influences the design, content, character, and service, to understand what the brand stands for and to follow existing guidelines.
“A distinct identity is essential for creating an explicit brand.”
Skånetrafiken’s brand manual View more
What do you think a company should consider when creating a brand manual?
Creating a brand manual is quite easy. The challenge is rather to create a manual that is sufficiently detailed and clear to keep the brand consistent, without eliminating inspiration and creativity.
You need to think about what the brand stands for, and how the manual is going to be used — people and functionality. In this respect, it is good to take into account what background knowledge the people using the manual have. This will reflect how detailed the manual needs to be. Moreover, based on what kind of business you run, you need to think about what should be included in your specific manual.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that it is a process and not a project to build a brand. This means that the manual needs to be dynamic and able to develop and change over time. That's why it's smart to use a digital tool because everyone will always have access to the most recently updated version.
Skånetrafiken has chosen to have several parts of its brand manual open to the public without password protection. What is the reasoning behind this decision?
We believe in transparency and openness. Skånetrafiken is also a public administration within Region Skåne, and together, we make a commitment to be transparent. The only sections we chose to have a password protection on are those which contain downloadable materials, such as drawings, photos, logos or anything that should not be spread and used in the wrong context.
How do you manage to keep your branding manual up-to-date?
It is difficult to anticipate in advance all the different needs that may arise in the future. In addition, it may be that todays’ tactics may not work optimally tomorrow. In other words, as different issues arise, there may be reason to rethink and develop content — add or remove.
We work extensively to show examples of what we continuously produce. This can inspire others and also help to avoid duplication which can be more cost-effective.
It is important that updates and changes are managed by as few people as possible in order not to lose control of what the brand represents. Ideally, no more than two people should have the editorial role and permission to make changes. On the contrary, we encourage our team to come up with suggestions for improvement. With an extensive manual, there are also several people, who are responsible for different parts. However, it is not the same as letting them make the actual changes that can affect the overall brand identity.
What do you appreciate most about deBroome's platform?
deBroome's tool is both easy to learn and to work with. We have also received help to develop and customize modules based on our specific needs. Moreover, when asking for assistance, we have experienced exceptional service from deBroome.
Check out Skånetrafiken’s brand manual here.
Skånetrafiken’s brand manual, Grafiska Riktlinjer
Christina Elwing is a brand strategist for Skånetrafiken, who has many years of experience in brand development and communication.
Photo: Thomas Althin