Before you need a brand style guide, develop your brand.
Working with a professional designer can get you there, (like us!) with a visual and verbal voice that will inspire you, and the people who interact with your marketing.
Then your brand style guide will give you and others a clear representation of how your company branding should be used and incorporated into all of your marketing materials, both on and offline. Consistency creates recognition and trust!
It will also keep your brand identity consistent, a key ingredient in building recognition.
This becomes more challenging when multiple vendors are involved. Having a brand standard guide assures consistency no matter what the platform; websites, brochures, social sites, trade show signage, etc. It doesn’t have to be super-sized like some of the examples you’ll see below, it can be a simple one-page document, like ours.
Does your company need a Brand Style Guide?
If you think your business doesn’t need a brand style guide, think again!
Even a single-founder startup with no employees can benefit from documenting their brand style.
It’s a lot like “Set it and forget it!” Once you set the guidelines, you never have to think about it again. Creating a guide makes you think it out and make decisions that stick.
This makes it easier to keep your branding consistent, no matter who becomes involved with the project. Any time a vendor is involved, you can access the right fonts, colors, placement, photography style and other design elements in a single document. Bam!
All the information is at your fingertips, so it’s a matter of handing over your style guide and getting back to what you do best.
Brand Bible Basics: Must-have info your guide should contain
- Brand overview, including history, vision and especially personality
- Logo specifications and examples of usage on light and dark backgrounds
- Typography choices with various weights
- Color palette for print and web
- Photography style
- Letterhead and business card design
- Design layouts and grids for print and web-based projects
- Brochure guidelines and graphic elements
- Specifications for signage and outdoor advertising
- Writing style and voice
- Social media guidelines
- Visual examples to support each rule (provide examples of proper and improper use for clarity)
Remember to define your verbal style
A brand is not only visual, but it’s also verbal. Are you corporate, cheeky (think Doritos), witty (think Buzzfeed), crafty (think Etsy), serious, angry, powerful (think Mercedes)?
Be anything, just not boring.
Explain your brand story in your guide to help people understand the why behind how your brand, and the verbal branding that defines you. Describe the tone of voice that represents your company best.
Examples of Great Brand Style Guides
Here is the genesis of Brand Standard manuals. Check out how design saved the New York City subway
Netflix provides a very clear guide on how to use their distinctive logo. They cover font choice, color palette, dimensions and additional resources and rules for logo usage.
Lloyd’s Insurance takes their brand style guide a bit further. You’ll find the usual stuff (like typography, color choice and spacing), but they also include information on specific ways to communicate the brand message and pointers for using the guide.
Nike created an extremely detailed guide that breaks down every way their imagery and logo should be used. The beautiful idea behind this style guide is use brevity and imagery to create an immediate impact, rather than have lengthy explanations. The style in which the brand should be communicated is immediately apparent. No excuses for this brand to go wrong!
Skype does an incredible job of telling their story while explaining how to use their marketing materials. They go way beyond simply outlining how to use their logo, by providing detail about who they are, who their customers are and why they exist. They even list specific examples of language usage and what words they don’t use, versus those they approve of.
Wrapping It Up
A Brand Style Guide acts as the compass for your brand that will help you and others keep your message consistent. You don’t need to be a large company to benefit from creating a living document to manage your brand assets and communication strategy as you grow. Need help developing one for your company? Contact us at 212-979-8055 or below!