One of the most essential documents any business can have is a brand style guide. Brand guides are the set of rules that explain how your brand works. These brand rules should be flexible enough for designers to be creative, but rigid enough to keep your brand easily recognizable and stylistically consistent.
Once you make the investment and take the time to create a fabulous logo for your company ─ you wouldn’t want to see it used incorrectly either online or in print. You want to make sure anywhere your logo appears ─ the colour, the size and the resolution are on point. A brand guide provides the colours, graphics, logo specs and fonts that comprise your brand. They’re the glue that holds your brand together and help to create and protect your company’s brand identity.
Three brand guides to help your business
A style guide details the visuals of your brand (logo, colour scheme, images, etc.) and written word (all sizes and fonts). A style guide is meant to establish your first impression and create continued consistency through those assets. If you’re just starting a business, developing a style guide will allow you to establish the colours and fonts that best represent your company. It can be as simple as a few pages and should explain your brands purpose and vision. Your company’s mission statement and verbal representation can be included in the guide as well. If your business has a website, business cards, posters or a product, you need to have the ins and outs of the look and feel of each asset and include them in a style guide.
Best Practices Guide
Now that you know everything possible about the look and feel of your brand, it’s time to establish how to use that information accurately. The best practices guide should lay out everything anyone would need to know about how to use your brand ─ from your website and your the blog, to social media and managing partnerships. Building a best practices document for your business allows you to delve even deeper into your brand. You’ll learn the right words to include in messaging, how your voice should differ on each social platform, and other tricks and techniques that will aid your organic reach and solidify your business as an authority.
Social Media Brand Guide
A social media brand guide gives you the information you need to establish your social media look and voice as well as tap into the world of your competitors. Portions of your style guide will carry over into the social media brand guide, but this guide is the most thorough of the three. Look at each social channel your brand will be on and then research them and build a visual guide of accounts you want to be like, brands you want to connect with and hashtags or groups you need to keep on your radar. If you want to gain new followers and elevate your social media presence, then you need to know the climate, your potential customers, and what partnership opportunities you might want to establish down the road. This guide outlines everything from what time you need to post, to hashtags to SEO basics so your content is optimized.
Do you have any of these documents for your business?
The goal of each guide is to protect the strength of your brand so that it continues to create value for your company. Ideally, your guides should be developed by an experienced graphic designer or marketing agency at the same time your logo is designed. This will help to ensure that all of your promotional channels are aligned ─ no matter who develops them for you in the future. Even if you’ve already had a logo designed, you can still hire a designer (preferably the same one who created your logo) to develop your brand guides.
As a business owner, it’s easy get caught up in other operations of the business, so it’s great to have guidelines to confirm how you’re brand should be used ─ especially as you begin outsourcing, hiring employees or working with agencies. Having a style guide and social media brand guide will help anyone else who touches your brand assets to use them properly, and a best practices guide will assure they don’t screw things up.
Image via Bash Studio