Consistency is key to establishing brand credibility for your business on the Internet. This may be challenging, especially if you’re working with various content creators across marketing channels. Without clear direction, your business could easily end up promoting off-brand materials with inconsistent colors, fonts and even logos. To address this challenge, you should create and distribute a brand style guide.
How a Brand Style Guide Help Your Brand
A brand style guide is a rulebook that outlines all specifications that contribute to the look and feel of your brand. This includes your brand’s messaging, logo, colors, fonts, photography, iconography and all other elements that are important to your brand’s design.
There are many benefits of a brand style guide. First, it helps establish quality control. By creating and enforcing brand guidelines, you can ensure your brand always has a consistent, high-quality look and feel when connecting with customers offline or on the Internet. Business owners can then focus on growing their businesses instead of spending time reviewing every single asset. Brand guidelines also establish brand recognition. If your marketing materials and collateral are always consistent, customers will more easily recognize your brand. This can ultimately help build brand loyalty.
How to Create Brand Guidelines
It’s clear that brand guidelines can make your life easier as a small business owner. Follow these steps to create a brand style guide for your business.
1. Identify Everything to Include
Your style guide should be your brand bible. It should include everything anyone should know about your brand before designing brand assets and collateral. You may have different needs depending on your business’s size and industry, but all guidelines should include the following:
Brand Mission, Vision, & Value
You should start with a high-level explanation of your core principles. This should include your business’s mission and purpose. It should also include your vision, or what you aim to create in the future. Finally, make sure to list your values to show what principles guide your business day-to-day. These details should illustrate who your business is and why it matters.
Next, you should include your brand messaging. This should outline how you should speak about your business, products and/or services externally. Typical components of brand messaging include value proposition, tagline, elevator pitch, tone of voice, and messaging pillars. In this section, include any element that will help your employees or contractors communicate effectively to customers and any other external stakeholders.
Your brand’s design is critical to its success. Make sure to include the following elements in the visual identity section of your brand guidelines:
Logo: Your logo is one of the most important elements of your brand. Specify size and color requirements for your logo. You should also address how much clear space is needed around your logo.
Colors: Include your brand color pallet with all primary and secondary colors. Colors often appear differently on print versus online. With that said, make sure to include the hex codes, RGB values and CMYK color codes to ensure your colors are presented correctly across all online and offline channels.
Fonts: Your brand’s typography is also a core element of your visual identity. Make sure to include all fonts that are used within your brand. If your brand uses a font that is not available on all platforms, specify which system backup font should be used.
In addition to these areas, this section should include details on:
- Data visualization styles
- Interactive elements
- Video and motion
- Web design styles
2. Create Your Guidelines (With Examples)
Once you’ve established this outline, you can start adding in the details. For each section, make sure to be concise while providing the important information and context. You should include plenty of examples and use-cases like:
- Social media copy
- Press releases
- Powerpoint decks
- Business cards
You can also include helpful tips, tools and even checklists. All these elements will help your team catch errors before it’s too late.
3. Make Your Brand Guidelines Easy to Access
Once you’ve created your brand guidelines, you should share with all your employees, contractors and agencies. Make sure to store your guidelines somewhere that’s easy to access, like your company server or Wiki. Even if you have a hard copy of your brand style guide, you should create and share a digital version as well.
4. Always Keep Your Brand Guidelines Updated
As a small business owner, you know that your business is always evolving. Make sure that your brand style guide reflects this. If certain aspects of your business change, you should update your guidelines as well.
A consistent brand is critical to build credibility and customer loyalty. By establishing and maintaining your brand guidelines, you can set your business and brand up for success.