If you plan on starting a business and are not familiar with what a branding style guide is, you should start doing your research! Creating a branding style guide will help ensure your company has a clear and consistent appearance. Even if you have, or plan to have multiple departments or locations. This guide will determine the protocol for anybody acting on your company’s behalf. This way, they have what they need to follow regarding how they showcase your brand. Once your guide is complete, anybody who reads it should be able to fully understand your company’s message.
Why Are Branding Style Guides Important?
People remember a business through its message and through constant exposure to imagery that captures their attention. A branding style guide makes sure that the message and imagery you are sending to your target audience is the same. No matter your brand is shown through print, television, social media, audio platforms or your product packaging. This level of consistency is what keeps your product or service easily recognizable. It also helps you build credibility with your audience. A cohesive marketing plan showcases your professionalism and your pride in your business.
Creating a guide will also act as a means of keeping your entire team on the same page. New employees will benefit from understanding when and where to use company names as opposed to product names, logos, certain fonts, and more. Additionally, having your entire team on the same page allows your business’ success to come more easily.
What Information is Included?
There are different types of branding style guides for different businesses. A basic guideline document might by-pass the in-depth concept of creating a brand strategy. It may only include the bare minimum of information, focusing more on the visual elements of branding. These might include things like logo design and variations, color scheme, typography, imagery, and the appearance of social media pages.
Companies that want to take a deeper dive into consistent branding will likely also place focus on other elements. These elements include creating a mission statement, a brand story, determining the “voice” or language used in marketing, signage (if the business has a brick-and-mortar location), website design, style, and more. The option that is right for you depends on the marketing avenues you intend to use as a means of spreading your brand message. Business cards, presentations, blogs, physical office spaces, social media, television, print, radio, packaging, etc. are all viable ways to showcase your company brand.
The Steps Required to Create Your Branding Style Guide
If you do decide to create a branding style guide, you will most certainly want to follow clear steps to make the process easier. Here are four easy ways to start:
Take a look around you. What pictures, colors, and words light you up and convey the feeling or message you are trying to get across through your company branding? Are there other brands in your industry that have influenced you or that impress you? Are there things you have done in the past that have gotten the feedback and reaction your company is trying to achieve? What have you already tried that has failed? The answers to all these questions will be imperative as you move forward with the next steps.
Determine the Details
Once you have found your inspiration, it’s time to go a little bit deeper by determining the elements that will make up your brand. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Choosing an image and colors are not the only guidelines you will want to determine here. You will also need to consider the size of your logo. How much empty space do you desire around your logo? Where will your logo be placed on various marketing materials? Also, consider how your logo should not look and be.
The colors your brand uses are very important, as each color evokes a certain feeling from your audience. Try to stick with a maximum of four colors which will easily blend with the logo you have chosen.
What type of font(s) do you want to use in your marketing materials? Your branding style guide should clearly define whether you will use more than one font, which fonts to use for what purpose, and the alignment and spacing of your font(s).
This portion of your guide will offer some examples of images that accurately depict your brand message. These have been used successfully in your previous marketing materials.
The voice of your company determines how your message will be received. What are some words you might include in your branding that you feel easily communicate the tone you are trying to get across? You might also choose to offer some words that are “off-limits”.
Your mission statement will tell anybody who reads your style guide what, exactly, your company is all about. This, followed by your brand story, should be located at the front of your guide if you choose to include them. This allows your reader to have a better idea of how the rest of your elements relate to the company.
Your story will tell your audience why you do what you do. Additionally, it tells them what makes your business different from others who might be in the same industry.
How do you want your social media avatars to appear? What sort of content is appropriate for each separate platform? How will you achieve a level of consistency through the various platforms so that your brand is easily recognizable on each?
Are you enjoying this post? If so, be sure to subscribe for occasional email updates from our team!
Determine Your Next Steps
Will you need to include additional sections to focus on packaging your products, the construction of your website, signage, stationery, etc.? There is no one size fits all when it comes to branding style guides. So, take the time to really figure out what else you might need to include that would benefit your company.
Create a Model
Take all the information you’ve gathered during your research and turn it into a roadmap for your guide. In which order do the sections make the most sense? What format would you like to create your guide in? How will you make sure your guide is easy to navigate for your readers?
Make a Plan for the Future
Once your branding style guide is done, you will want to make sure it will continue to benefit you through the evolution of your brand. In other words, this is not a one and done undertaking. Your branding guide will grow and change as your company grows and changes and as consumer needs shift. For example, take Pabst Blue Ribbon. This lager, typically known in the United States as a cheap alternative to some of its competitors, now sells in China for the equivalent of $44 due to some impressive re-branding efforts on behalf of the company. By making some shifts in their ingredients, changing the name to Blue Ribbon 1844, and upgrading the packaging, PBR was able to completely recreate their product in a foreign market.
Apple is another great example of rebranding that changed the direction of a company. After nearing bankruptcy in 1997, Apple decided to upgrade the design of their products and packaging to reflect the more elegant and sleeker look that was dominating the marketing. Needless to say, Apple made a full recovery, plus some. The moral of the story is to revisit your branding style guide regularly to see where you might need to make some improvements. You should plan a time to do so with your team regularly.
Conclusion for Creating a Branding Style Guide
Follow these steps and you will have a branding style guide your company can be proud of. If you need help deciding on your branding guidelines, we can assist. Our team offers marketing consultant services where we help business owners make marketing decisions. Feel free to connect with us via the contact form below.