When it comes to branding, consistency is all that matters, simply because your brand should reflect the same look and feel everywhere. Staying visually consistent and connected with your audience is the best way for your brand to establish credibility and also grow rapidly.
Whether your business is big or small, you need a brand style guide. A brand style guide ensures that your brand is recognizable across every channel, medium & domain. Whether your website or your social media profiles, you need to adhere to this guide.
What is a brand style guide?
It is a document that describes, defines and presents what your brand can look like and what it cannot. It would be good if you lay down some ground rules that you follow across all online and offline channels and mediums.
How to create a brand style guide?
For this, you first need to define your brand identity guidelines. The brand style guide should reflect the heart, soul, mission and vision of your brand. Brand guidelines are something that defines the overall look and feel (design, structure, logo, font style) of your brand.
Why do you need a visual brand style guide?
To create an online space that makes your brand stand out from the rest.
Creating a brand style guide can be time-consuming, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one. Having a style guide in place does more than just maintain consistency. For example, let’s say that you hire a new designer for your organization. What’s next? Are you going to spend time on explaining him/her all the guidelines for designing? Or would you prefer handing them over the brand style guide?
Picture the most recognizable brands like Google or Amazon. What is it about them that you are able to recall so easily? Is it their colour, font style, logo, which are together called the brand elements? You recall these brands because of their unique visual brand identity.
What to include in a style guide?
The branding style guide needs to include everything, your brand mission, vision to the textures, colour codes, etc.
Here’s how to create your brand style guide:
Define your mission statement and values. Know the background and history of your brand. Whatever you do, it should align with your brand mission and vision.
Know the mere purpose of why your brand exists. Who is your brand for? Who all are your possible clients? What are their possible likes? Clearly define how you want your brand to be perceived by the users. The message you want to convey should be perceived in the same manner.
Outline the proper usage of your logo to ensure its recognition. Logos are an important part of branding. However, there are some rules, how should be the spacing, what colour can be used.
The ideal logo should fit every domain, whether digital or print media.
Create a predefined set of guidelines that your designer needs to follow, which also have a clear set of rules about the size & placement. Companies usually make a few samples of logos that define how your logo can look and how it cannot. This is a good way to see which one perfectly suits your needs and requirements, and get the one that fits in.
You need to use the colours for the style guide that dictate the appropriate message you want to convey. While using colours for your brand, it is imperative to consider the psychology of colours. Each colour represents a different emotion, thus pick the colours that truly reflect your values.
For some businesses, using at the maximum 2 to 3 colours will give them an excellent logo. However, for some using as many colours can give them their best fit logo.
Look at how Google came up with their logo, how the company decided to use 4 colours for their logo. Well you see, it all depends on the brand guidelines. So basically know the background of your brand and see if the colour scheme resonates with it or not.
Choose a font style that reflects your unique brand identity. Because fonts form a large part of any collateral that you produce. It is important that they are impactful and consistent throughout.
The guide has all the details about the font combinations that you can use, what size can be used, how the spacing will be between the letters, etc. Include tracking and kerning (the spaces between your letters and words) ratios to maintain a consistent style when the font size changes.
Clearly define which typefaces you will be using for your headlines, body text and captions. Also define whether it will it be center, left or right aligned.
You can create a few samples of different font combinations, and see which one goes well with your brand. A good rule is to use a font different than the one used in the logo. This helps the content appear more prominently.
Visuals are the elements that attract users all the more. The images that you decide to use should convey the feeling that you want to convey to the users. You may use images that your brand has been using for various marketing campaigns that have worked well for your brand.
Finally, see what your brand voice is reflecting. This should resonate with your niche specific audience. A brand tone that reflects positive energy, intrigues the users.
Here you can differentiate words that you can use for your brands, and words that you cannot use. A good way is to use a few adjectives that reflect the personality of your brand.
As time passes by, you can tweak, add or edit these elements based on user response and success. You will end up learning what works for you and what does not. It is a good practice to set a solid foundation by creating one. You can make these changes once in two months, or once in a quarter, whatever suits you the best!
So, whether yours is a big business or a small business, to maintain consistency across every platform, you need a brand style guide. This guide has all the basic elements and can act as a single point of reference for any employee of the company.
Do you have a brand style guide? If you don’t, it’s time to get on track and create a brand style guide! We hope this article helps you set it up!
Anuja is the Co-founder and CEO of RedAlkemi Online Pvt. Ltd., a digital marketing agency helping clients with their end to end online presence. Anuja has 30 years of work experience as a successful entrepreneur and has co-founded several ventures since 1986. She and her team are passionate about helping SMEs achieve measurable online success for their business. Anuja holds a Bachelors degree in Advertising from the Government College of Fine Arts, Chandigarh, India.