As the name suggests, brand style guide is a rulebook which guides a brand’s identity to perfection. Everything you see in a brand’s identity, from its logo to its color theme, comes under brand style guide. It is essential to follow a proper brand style guide in order to propel your brand to the top.
In the modern world, everything is expected to be near perfect in order to appeal to the audience. Hence, it is essential for any brand (struggling or established) to follow a functional guide.
One of the most important factors to be considered while following a brand style guide is having consistency.
Pick a theme and stick to it, this helps in building trust with the audience. Not following a theme, will result in confusing the viewers and they will shift to some other brands.
What is a brand style guide?
Brand style guide is a reference material which contains information about how certain aspects of the company should be, i.e. logo, tagline, colors, etc.
For example, a good guide shows how the brand logo should look like in every possible scenario. i.e. how should it look in colored, black and white, print ads, business cards, etc.
What a brand style guide generally includes?
As we have discussed this far, brand style guide is essential for both struggling and established businesses. The difference between their guide’s however is in the level of detail.
Bigger brands have a highly detailed brand style guide whereas smaller brands have a less detailed one as they do not require an advanced one at the evolving stage.
What should an ideal brand style guide contain?
- LOGO The guide of your company should have the different versions of its logo. This determines how your logo will look in different variations.
The basic idea here is that the brand logo should be easily recognizable in all possible forms. The brand’s tagline can also be incorporated here.
- GRAPHIC ELEMENTS Any specific patterns, symbols, images and textures used by your brand are mentioned here.
- COLOR PALETTE The color theme of the brand is elaborated here.
- PHOTO GUIDELINES Information about the type, size and style of the pictures used by the company are mentioned here.
- TYPOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS This section is responsible for mentioning the different types of font styles, font sizes and typefaces used by the company.
- WEBSITE STYLES Any specifics about the elements related with the brands website should go in here. Exceptions (if any) should also be mentioned in the guide itself.
CONTENT ELEMENT GUIDELINES
Every successful brand uses content to tell its story. Guidelines mention what elements should be used while creating the content. Let us elaborate on some of these elements.
HEADLINES & BODY COPY
Headlines are used to highlight the benefits whereas the body content explains the pain points of the target audience. The body text and content headlines should look alike.
TONE & VOICE
The tone and voice of the brand should be specified in the guide. For example, your brand tone can be light or serious. It may also have a personal or reserved voice. Hence, it is essential to mention this in the brand style guide.
Just like the tone of a company, its grammar details are also unique. Eg. Some brands use Oxford comma while some don’t, and this detail becomes an important part of the brand’s image.
Hence, it is essential to mention even the slightest detail about your company in the guide.
Your brand style guide can be as detailed and elaborate as you want it to be. A brand style guide can be enriched with details in case your brand is sensitive and has a broader appeal.
Providing power point templates of your brand along with some writing samples in the brand style guide can also prove to be essential and useful in certain scenarios.
How can a good brand style guide help your business?
- BRAND CONSISTENCY As we have already discussed, consistency is the key for success of any brand out there, and to maintain that consistency, it is essential to have a properly functioning brand style guide.
Having consistency in the brand elements makes a solid visual identity. This visual identity builds a public perception of your company.
A brand style guide helps a brand in maintaining that consistency in the visuals, typography and images. Having a consistent theme across your brand, leaves a positive impression on the customers and reflects its true personality.
- BRAND RECOGNITION
Brand style guide helps in keeping the brand themes consistent, which in turn builds brand recognition. This is essential as it determines how people perceive your brand.
Brand identity elements like business cards helps in creating brand recognition and building your brand. You can distribute business cards to the target audience which essentially builds your brand recognition.
In cases where brands lack these elements, literally anyone can mess with their identity and recognition.
In a way, brand style guide is an assurance that people will always recall your brand as it was before.
-SET YOUR STANDARD RULES
Brand style guide helps your brand in setting some standard rules about the visual identity or the company itself in general. For example, a company can set a standard which allows only certain color tone to be used for the brand.
When a brand has certain rules and regulations set for proper functioning, it makes the maintenance of these elements easier.
-CONVEY A COHESIVE MESSAGE
It is essential to maintain a common message across all the elements of visual identities in a brand, so that the audience gets the right idea.
Brand style guide helps in conveying that common message across all the visual elements of the brand.
Hence, the content creators of your brand can refer to the brand style guide in order to convey a cohesive message across all the visual elements.
-SAVE TIME AND EFFORTS
Coming up with new ideas and content requires brainstorming which demands a lot of time and efforts. Having a proper brand style guide can reduce those times drastically because of the predetermined themes. This also helps in saving money and efforts of your content creators.
In certain scenarios, new employees can get confused about the company’s brand identity. This can also hinder their workflow and the overall development of the brand. Having a detailed brand style guide available to the employees can help in solving this issue. Employees can refer to it when necessary which makes working a bliss.
HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL BRAND STYLE GUIDE?
If you have absolutely no idea about creating a brand style guide, taking inspiration and ideas from already existing guides, is highly recommended. Guides which are already in circulation, can be considered as excellent blueprints and you can take notes from them.
You can copy the basic format of the brand style guide of successful brands and modify the bits and pieces from your brand identity in there.
A brand style guide should be properly sectioned for optimum results. A well designed and sectioned brand style guide is easy to use and maintain.
Small but essential details like grammar primer or other tricky grammar rules should be mentioned here. The basic objective of a brand style guide is to maintain proper functioning and content creation in a brand. It is available for making working environment in a brand simple and straightforward where the team members can refer to the guide whenever they have any confusion related with content creation.
-INCLUDE YOUR POLICIES
It is recommended to make a section for policies in your brand style guide where you mention about your company policies regarding social media use or any other legal considerations. Mentioning policies is a must as it saves the brand from any legal issues.
-MAKE A COLLABORATIVE GUIDE
The brand style guide of your company should have the potential to impart knowledge and information to the employees. It should not look like an ordinary document which is forced upon the content creators.
The guide should be flexible, which can be updated by the editors of your brand, but more importantly, additions in the guide should be carried out only after taking feedback from the employees.
By doing this, you will increase their overall involvement in the guide and it will not be perceived as a forced document.
-MENTION YOUR RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYEES
One should make sure that their brand style guide has resources for the employees which they can use while creating content and visuals.
Resources should be mentioned in a proper order for better utilization. i.e. putting important and essential resources will gather more attention from the employees when placed on the top.
-STYLE GUIDE ACCESSIBILITY
The most important aspect of making a proper brand style guide is to make it readily available to anyone who contributes to the brand in any way. Having a perfect guide which is not available when necessary is completely worthless.
Hence, it is essential to ensure that your brand style guide is available to the content creators whenever they need assistance.
In conclusion, brand style guide should be considered as the bible for your brand’s identity. It is extremely essential for a properly functioning company. A successful brand style guide is the answer to all your questions, ranging from marketing strategies to even the brand logo.
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