Designing a cohesive brand identity around a long-term vision, from authenticity to consistency, will help your brand succeed.
The Importance of a Brand Style Guide
What makes a company stand out in a competitive industry? Is it the products you sell or the services you offer? Or is it your price range or the way you communicate with your online audience? The answer is all of that, and so much more. Most importantly, though, your company can only truly stand out and grab the attention of the online and offline worlds by having a unique brand identity and a distinct brand style that portrays an authoritative, trustworthy, and likeable brand image.
Whether you are trying to build a luxury brand for today or looking to build a successful company in the IT sector or any other field, your key objective should be to create a brand that will act as a foundation for your every marketing and sales campaign, every internal process, and every growth plan. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the best tips to help you create a brand style guide that complements your brand, your vision, and your personal ethos as a leader.
What is a Brand Identity?
Before we delve into the 5 tips to create a detailed brand style guide, let’s first cover the concept of a brand identity. It should go without saying that every growth-oriented company needs to have a unique identity in order to start out in the competitive online and offline markets. With that said, your brand identity encompasses everything – your brand’s personality and tone of voice; your values, ethos, and the causes you support; all the way to your visuals and your style guide.
The key components of a detailed brand style include:
• Your logo
This is the first thing people will notice, which is why it needs to embody your brand’s values and personality.
• Your colour scheme
Colours help evoke the right emotions and make a brand stand out while simultaneously incentivising a positive action.
• Your font and typography
This element helps shape your brand’s tone of voice and personality, making it look whimsical and fun, or professional and serious, depending on your preference.
• Supporting graphics
Your visual content will greatly shape people’s perception of your brand, help with SEO and brand awareness, and also help build a trustworthy and authoritative image.
Now that you know what a brand identity is and understand the elements in play, let’s delve deeper into creating your brand style guide.
Lay the Foundation
In order to build a comprehensive style guide that is as detailed as possible, your brand managers and creatives need to delve deep into the very essence of your company, from its values and morals to its long-term goals and vision. The more information they have to work with, the better, because going in-depth on brand research allows your employees or external brand developers to establish a deep and intricate connection with your business.
This will be the foundation of your brand style guide, so be sure to define the aforementioned brand aspects so that you can start deriving visual elements and begin weaving your mission, vision, values, and everything else into your brand’s visual identity.
Be sure to follow these steps:
• Consider your logo’s ‘stickiness’ and the story it tells your audience
By and large, your logo should be easy to remember and reproduce by hand. Aim to make it as simple as possible and make sure that it clearly portrays your values while helping with overall brand stickiness – this will help with branded searches.
• Choose a complementary colour scheme
This depends on your goals and your brand’s personality, but the bottom line is that your colours should inspire trust and loyalty (blue hues), stimulate action (red hues), and help people feel good about making a purchase (green hues). Be sure to explore other colours as well to find your ideal scheme.
• Use your typography wisely
This should help highlight various sections on your site, take the visitor on an exciting journey, and inspire them to make a purchase. Your font should be consistent throughout, although there is always room to emphasise certain features and CTAs with a complementary font as well.
Create a Unique Visual Identity
The modern business world is governed by consumer trends, which is why so many brands follow the same aesthetic guidelines nowadays. Before long, you’ll start noticing that the majority of companies out there all look alike, if not identical, in certain instances, forcing the uniqueness and creativity out of the brand and making it become just another company in a sea of similar competitors. This is no way to stand out, so you need to make sure that your visual identity is one of a kind.
Start by creating a logo that complements your brand identity and portrays its essence. Choose a colour palette that evokes your values and the right emotional response. Plan your typography carefully and make sure that it’s used across marketing, branding, and sales channels to ensure consistency. Lastly, pay special attention to your imagery and refrain from using stock photos. Instead, create authentic visual content to craft a memorable and trustworthy brand image.
To make your images truly authentic, tend to the following:
• Start by asking your real employees to star in your photos.
• Create a narrative by taking pics of your employees doing their job instead of posing in a contrived way.
• Use authentic, real-world props and backdrops instead of photoshopped special effects.
• Keep it light and natural. Don’t attack the viewer with too many visual elements.
• Promote your products by telling a story with your images. Don’t just have someone pose with the product. Instead, snap a moment in time that shows your product in use.
Focus on Engaging Marketing Collateral
Speaking of your visual content, it’s important to keep in mind that visual elements are the most powerful and persuasive tools in any online and offline marketing strategy. Weaving your brand style into every piece of visual content will greatly improve your marketing effort and help create truly unique brand dissemination strategies that will make you stand out and build up your brand’s reputation and authority in the competitive market.
Aside from online visual content, you should also invest in engaging marketing collateral, preferably something like the new Infostarters print materials that are optimised for online and offline publication, including product catalogues, brochures, one-pagers, eBooks and other online materials. Ensure that your marketing collateral is easy to publish online and offline at a moment’s notice, all the while ensuring brand consistency no matter the platform or the format you choose.
Don’t Forget about Brand Personality
Every brand should have a distinct personality that the customer can resonate with. To put that into perspective, the tone of voice and the vocabulary that a law firm uses will greatly differ from the tone of voice and the vocabulary used by an e-commerce store that’s trying to capitalise on new industry trends. Consumers from every niche have their unique sensibilities, so it’s important that you define a brand tone of voice and an overarching brand personality that will help your employees build their brand etiquette and communicate with the outside world in a consistent and effective way.
Ensure Brand Consistency
There is no point in creating a comprehensive brand style guide if you just let it sit on the shelf or the cloud. Instead, you ought to implement the guide as soon as possible, both internally and externally, to make your brand consistent in its presentation across both the online and offline realms. From the way you communicate with your followers on social media, nurture your leads, and network at speaking events to the way you manage your entire online presence – all of these processes should be optimised on the foundation of your brand style guide. People love consistency, so make sure to capitalise on it.
In a competitive industry, there’s nothing that can set your company apart like a memorable and compelling brand identity. Use these tips to create a powerful brand style guide that will, quite literally, guide your company towards long-term success.