Consistency is the most important element of branding. When consistent, high-quality content is provided, customers become reliant on you to deliver exactly what they want every time. Alternately, inconsistency will confuse and alienate your customers and can become a major threat to brand integrity. In this regard, it is highly recommended that every commercial establishment arm themselves with a brand style guide.
What Is a Brand Style Guide?
For a brand to be successful there are certain guidelines they must adhere to. Among them is what is referred to as a brand style guide. A brand style guide is a reference tool or simply a set of rules that content creators must follow in order to accurately represent a company’s brand to the world.
Why Is a Brand Style Guide Important?
The benefits of brand style guides are:
- Brand style guides assist in maintaining the integrity of your brand as it ensures that there is consistency with every piece of content created and published. In the event that you have different people or departments for example administration, customer service, marketing, design and sales working on different content, consistency and ultimately integrity will be maintained. This will inspire trust in your customers, because a brand style guide will ensure that your brand looks and feels the same every time.
- It also greatly assists with brand recognition and identifies who you are. That is why good designs and consistent data visualization, color use and typography are emphasized because they allow your customers to distinguish you from other brands offering similar products or services.
- Importantly brand style guides aid in quality control and building reputation. After all, no one wants to support or be associated with a brand that creates disjointed and ineffective content. Therefore, style guides will ensure that you are always publishing content that you are proud of.
How to Create a Style Guide.
Your style guide can include as many sections or details as you want. Some companies keep their style guide very simple while others go in greater detail. However, it is imperative that all style guides include these 6 core sections:
1) Brand Story
The brand story is used to introduce your brand to the world. This summary will essentially give people an insight into exactly who you are and what you do as a company. Brand stories outline a company’s vision, mission, history, milestones and core values. They are important and should be the first thing presented in the style guide since it sets the stage for the brand experience.
Your logo is the most important part of your brand. It is what distinguishes you from everyone else. It is also what the public will immediately recognize as belonging to you and no one else. This section of the brand style guide should therefore explain exactly how your logo should be used. It should also include specifications such as size, space and colors. Rest assured that alterations to your logo could have a negative impact on your brand, so it is also important to make known the ways within which you do not want your logo to be used.
3) Color Palette
In order to maintain consistency and keep brand recognition intact, it’s of great importance that the brand colors are known so there will be no deviation from them. Your brand style guide should therefore clearly define your brand’s color palette using color codes.
Typography is one of those things which is often overlooked but plays a critical role in how your brand is perceived. This is because a big part of identity design is font selection.
Your brand style guide should therefore dictate the typeface family/ fonts that you want to be associated with your brand and how they should be used. For example, the headlines, captions, body text.
5) Brand Voice
Having a consistent brand voice in your messaging should not be underestimated. Therefore, quality time should be spent on finding the style that resonates with your audience and aligns with your brand. Your brand voice should be unique, positive and energetic, so if you have messaging that works well for you, show those examples in your brand style guide and ensure that it is replicated across your channels.
6) Imagery Guidelines
Imagery guidelines such as photos, illustrations, charts, infographics should be included in your brand style guide. If photographs are frequently used then the compositions, color schemes, styles, and technical specs should be made clear in this document.
Additional Guideline Sections.
While the aforementioned are the core and most important sections of your brand style guide, there are also some additional sections that must not be overlooked.
This refers to all the images and symbols that will appear on your website and within your marketing content. Icons are a highly effective way to convey big ideas without using words. Examples of these should also form a part of the guide.
The way in which your website and social media platforms are designed should be consistent, no doubt, but the specifics of that should also be outlined so every person working on your platforms are aware of your expectations.
Data visualization is the graphical representation of information or data and oftentimes grabs your interest and keeps your eyes on the message. The way in which you would like your data to be displayed must be clearly demonstrated in this document.
How can people find your company is another section that must not be excluded from your brand style guide. Even if the guide will be used predominantly by persons working on behalf of your brand, it should never be taken for granted that they know your contact information right. State it clearly in your style guide.