The marketing landscape has become brutal for today’s brands, especially with the increasing popularity of social media. Hundreds of ads bombard internet users every day, and it takes a strong brand and a brand guide to stand out.
When you think of memorable brands like Nike, Spotify, Starbucks, and Netflix, you can vividly picture each brand’s logo, imagery, typeface, color palette, to even the specific way they ‘talk’ to their target audience.
Similarly, you need such differentiating visual elements and messaging to outshine your competitors.
What Is a Brand Guide?
A brand guide is a rulebook that defines how a company presents its brand identity to the world. Also called a brand bible or brand book, this document has all the information needed to create marketing materials (like brochures) and internal messages for social accounts, websites, and digital signage.
Usually, the guide begins a presentation of a brand’s core values and mission statement. Also, it features visual elements like color, imagery, iconography, typography, and verbal identities like the brand personality and tagline.
The primary goals of this guide are brand consistency and brand recognition. If everyone in your organization creates content according to how they see fit, you end up with misplaced logos, off-brand colors, and inconsistent branding. In contrast, brand guidelines ensure that teams in graphic design, copywriting, website design, and other in-house departments represent the brand effectively.
The major formats for brand style guides are printed and digital. However, modern brands are adopting interactive style guides as they are dynamic and easy to navigate.
Explore the tips below on how to create a brand guide.
1. Define Your Brand’s Mission
Typically, a brand’s style guide starts with an about me section. In this section, tell people what your brand is about and what sets you apart. Specifically, write a compelling brand story that encourages people to buy into your vision.
Some brand strategy elements to add in this step are the personality, vision, and values. Also, this is your chance to speak directly to your audience. In particular, communicate in their language and talk about their worries and problems.
Previously, brands used big chunks of texts to communicate their core values. However, you can add videos, animations, and fun GIFs to excite anyone who reads the brand book.
2. Establish Your Visual Identities
Visuals are incredibly vital to stand out in the digital world. Indeed, good visuals forge an emotional connection with your audience and offer them a consistent visual experience. For example, Coca-Cola’s customers expect a red and white can or bottle whenever they buy a coke. Some visual elements to add include the following.
This section includes all official versions of your brand’s logo. Your logo is among the most important brand assets, and the guide should have clear illustrations of logo usage. For example, you can define the logo’s size proportions, color variations, and the amount of required white space if applicable.
Brand colors are a vital part of a brand’s visual identity. Hence, define your company’s primary and secondary color and color names. Ideally, you should list the RGB numbers, HEX codes, Pantone names, and CMYK color codes of the colors in your brand’s color scheme to ensure they are easy to find.
Define your brand’s photography style and themes to build a consistent brand. For example, if you see a Nike photo without the logo, you automatically associate the picture with the brand. In addition to style and colors, add more subtle details like angles, lighting, and composition. Also, include a well-performing brand image to guide photographers when shooting the company’s content.
Typography instantly communicates your brand’s personality, whether formal and professional or fun and friendly. Here, specify the font type, sizing, and spacing. In addition, identify the font you use for printing materials like business cards and brochures and the fonts for web communication. Lastly, let employees know where to get the approved fonts.
3. Identify Your Tone of Voice
Is your brand humorous? Friendly? Uplifting? Professional? A well-defined brand voice makes your writing consistent and impressionable, and it should remain unchanged regardless of the platform, from digital displays to your LinkedIn page.
If you are indecisive about where to start, audit the content on your website, blog, and social media. Then, draft three adjectives that best describe your brand and invite employees to the exercise. The possibilities are limitless, such as passionate, quirky, authentic, and creative.
Establish clear identity guidelines on language and tone in the brand guide to stay consistent in all communication. Further, give specific examples of your brand voice and invite team members to develop similar wording. Maybe there is a particular phrase you want to conclude each email or blog post. Another tip is to list phrases and terms that your team should avoid.
For companies interested in how to create a brand guide, the above tips will be handy. Ultimately, your brand style guide should be easy to use and accessible. Since every brand is unique, feel free to add more details.
A customized brand guide ensures that every employee knows how each internal message and marketing effort should look, including brochures, digital signs, or TV commercials.