Brand Guide: A Valuable Resource
Are you finding it difficult to streamline your brand identity across all platforms? Do you feel like your branding is missing the feeling of cohesion?
When different team members manage collateral, a lack of cohesive branding can confuse your audience. The goal is to create the same emotion for each person in your target market. If every piece of collateral isn’t consistent, your brand won’t be as memorable, or worse, you can lose the trust of your audience with the perception of unprofessionalism.
So, how can you ensure your team is portraying your brand correctly? By setting standards for your brand image, thus creating an authentic, vivid, and unique experience. We recommend creating a BRAND GUIDE.
What is a brand guide?
A brand guide (a.k.a. style guide) is a comprehensive list of practices of how to best represent your organization. The rules can range from basic information, such as the logo, typeface, and color palette, to a complex list of phrasing that reveals the personality and the tone of your organization’s voice.
Are you a fun and flirty boutique with playful imagery, fun warm tones, and a sweeping script font? Maybe you’re a government contracting company defined by rigid geometric shapes, technical terminology, and cool colors. Your brand guide conveys these rules to your team, who, through collateral and media, use this “language” to communicate the company’s character to your audience.
Why do I need a brand guide?
An expectation of standards is set for your organization when you provide a brand guide. This ensures consistency, establishing expectations for employees to apply these guidelines when creating collateral, social media graphics, or any other branding materials.
Outside sources can benefit from this as well. You can share your brand guide as a source of how to properly incorporate your branding on projects handled by outside creative partners, media kits, sponsorships, and more. Protecting your brand with an established set of rules provides clarity and consistency.
Defining specific colors, typeface, and imagery that represents your brand determines reliability. Staying consistent in styling communicates to your audience that you are authentic, secure, and trustworthy.
If you saw an ad for Target in neon green, would you trust it? No, you’d be wary about that information because it’s lacking the familiarity you’re used to seeing. Consistency increases credibility and validity.
Finding Yourself / Creating Structure
A crucial reason for having a brand guide is to be proactive in regulating how your image is perceived by the public. A brand guide provides guidance on how branding efforts should look and feel across all marketing projects.
Ideally, your style guide should be one of the first resources set in place as you begin branding your business.
Additionally, the practice of creating this structure can help focus the personality of your brand by answering questions you may not have considered about your company’s identity.
How do I create a brand guide and what needs to be in it?
Understandably, creating a style guide can be overwhelming. Attempting to define how your brand’s visuals and tone should be communicated is a lot to think about! However, following this simple outline can be a great way to start. Once you get ideas flowing, the pieces will fall into place!
As an introduction to your brand, start with your purpose or mission statement. Why does your company exist? What problems do your services solve? What change do you want to make in the world? Your brand’s identity lies in your purpose.
Secondly, and maybe the most important in a brand guide is your logo. Introducing the logo is a given, but you want to create clear rules and standards on how your logo can be used.
If your logo has any additional wordmarks, brandmarks, or icons this section of your brand guide should dictate how to use alternate versions of your logo.
Additionally, addressing clear space, the space required between your logo and other graphic elements, is also very important. Clear space increases the clarity of your logo and ensures recognizability.
Lastly, A “Do and Don’t” list is a common element that defines the ways your logo can or cannot appear. For example, typically a brand does not allow the logo to be stretched, skewed, or the typeface changed in any way.
A style guide will also include a color palette. Your color palette brings emotion into your identity as colors can be symbolic and meaningful.
This will present your team with a clear guide of what colors are acceptable. Your brand guide should list color codes for each of the four major color models. This will provide information that’s crucial for seamless printing and digital use. (Check out our blog on Color Model for more information!)
Pro- Tip! Don’t forget to include what combinations of colors are unacceptable due to ADA compliance, some colors do not contrast well enough to be used together. Here’s a great site to check for the best contrasting combinations.
Clarify what typefaces have been chosen for your brand. Choose complimentary typefaces for headers and body text- try including an interesting display typeface for special cases, if necessary.
Do you want to add to the personality and tone of your brand to your style guide? Great! Include information such as a section on how imagery should be used.
Do you want consistent warm tones on all your photos? Include examples with your unique filter!
Pro-Tip! Current trends include a vibrant pattern, a gradient, or a fun character.
What voice does your brand use? Is your brand professional and technical? Is your brand quirky and sassy? Avoiding or specifically using certain phrases? Include a section about how your writing should sound to a reader.
Applications and mockups are great ways to show your brand in use. Mock-ups can include a picture of your brand mark on business cards, banners, t-shirts, billboards, coffee cups, and much more. It’s also helpful to include examples of how your branding should appear on applications such as desktop vs. mobile and social media platforms.
Anything that could be showcased on a mockup is a great opportunity to showcase the character of your brand.
A brand guide is the heart of your company’s image and the nexus of your brand management. Maintaining control of your perception is essential and it starts with a brand guide. Employees and community partners can use this guide as your brand’s reference point, establishing recognition and reliability. If your brand isn’t consistent, your audience will be hesitant to trust you. Whether it’s as simple as logo color and typeface or as intricate as your photography, tone, and personality, your brand guide can be whatever you want it to be!