21 Jun Learn the Key Components of Creating Stellar Brand Guidelines
When it comes to branding for your business, consistency is absolutely essential. But how do you ensure brand consistency when there are several departments, partners, or agencies producing your brand’s collateral? How can you quickly communicate your brand requirements to grow your business?
The secret lies in creating brand guidelines—aka, a brand style guide.
A brand style guide consists of a compelling brand story with an emotional connection, examples of actual consumers, your business brand style guide, and your brand’s why.
The visual components of your brand must also tie into this to create a clear brand identity and personality. Finally, you must prioritize consistency and connection for your business and consumers as you seek to grow your brand, elevate your content and public perception, and increase brand awareness and your return on investment (ROI).
By developing brand guidelines that clearly outline your business and ensure professionalism and consistency in your messaging, you’ll provide a better and more meaningful consumer experience.
Create a Compelling Brand Story
When you seek to create a brand with loyal customers, brand guidelines are nothing without a compelling brand story.
Your brand story is the first touchpoint for consumers to understand your brand voice, brand personality, core values, mission statement, and tone of voice. Your brand voice can be humorous, sarcastic, wild, content, tranquil, authoritative, and instructive. It all depends on the type of brand persona you’d like to build to connect with your target audience, create an emotional connection, and begin to form a clear brand identity.
If your brand is personal to you, you might decide to include some information about you, why you founded the company, the challenges, and triumphs you’ve faced on your business journey, and what your consumers mean to you.
This is a living and breathing document of your brand and provides consumers with a clear tone of voice that your audience feels they can connect with and support. If your brand is lacking in this foundation, it’s essential to consider undergoing brand discovery. This process will help you to better understand your brand, your audience, your vision, and direction.
Understand Your Target Audience
Regardless of whether you’ve got an existing or new brand, when seeking to sell any products or services, you need first to understand your audience, their aspirations, personality, daily life, and why your products and services matter to them—what problem you solve.
This is what’s known in a branding project as a buyer persona. Based on extensive data and market research, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers. It helps you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all creative work, both written and visual, across your organization (from marketing to sales to customer service). It helps to ensure brand consistency, that you’re headed in the right direction, and that the wrong message isn’t communicated to your audience.
The best brands use a buyer persona to showcase brand consistency and attract high-value visitors, leads, and customers to your business, who you’ll be more likely to retain over time.
Communicate Your Market Differentiator
Your market differentiator (also known as your product or service differentiator) is the identity and description of your products or services that stands out from other products or services in the same market. It’s what makes your products or services different.
Your market differentiator is often spelled out in your brand guidelines and can include your brand colors, brand elements, company logo, brand assets, visual identity, logo variations, color palette, font styles, core values, illustrative style, company name, color codes, data visualization, typography hierarchy, use of white space or drop shadows, and more. Again, it’s anything that makes you different from the competition.
Done well, your market differentiator can also serve as your key identifier and provide your audience with concrete examples of your brand.
Establish Visual Guidelines for Logo & Graphic Design
Another essential element of your brand guidelines is establishing a clear and robust visual identity, including your logo variations, color palette, brand image, style guide, logo guidelines, such as logo spacing and logo usage, and additional elements such as a style guide for your graphic designers.
Your brand style guide is an excellent tool for your internal graphic designers, copywriters, and creatives, and your external agency partners. The brand guidelines or brand book include your company logo and other elements to ensure consistency across all marketing and advertising collateral.
Consider Color & Font Choice
First, consider your color palette, brand colors, hex codes, CMYK color codes, and CMYK values that each design asset will use. Consider the possible color schemes and what they say about your brand identity. Create a brand style guide centered around your brand colors for your creative partners to reference as they develop digital and print assets and design elements.
Additionally, you must select a few font styles that adhere to your brand style guide and allow for brand recognition.
For example, if your brand identity is playful and comical, you might select a sans serif font that is bubbly, bold, and loopy brand elements. If you want to create a brand style that is more professional and academic, you’ll likely select a serif font with standard sizing and a simple structure.
The key is to hone in on your visual identity, stay on brand, and create a consistent brand. This includes considering how much space you’ll have between titles and paragraphs and the overall structure and font sizes on a digital pdf, your website, and other marketing collateral.
Consider Touchpoints for Collateral
The brand rules apply to all components of your brand. Your brand identity guidelines should contain a step-by-step guide for all business partners, and staff to buy in, have clear directions, and create all written and visual collateral. This is often referred to as the brand manual or brand book. Consider all touchpoints and the effect they have on your audience.
Your brand style guide should be robust, easy-to-understand, and cover every aspect of your company. This is then implemented at every user touchpoint, from social media to your website, print collateral, and more.
Define Your Voice & Personality
As mentioned previously, your brand voice is an essential component of your brand style guide. It is often described in the brand guidelines document as your brand’s persona.
You must consider the brand’s products and services and determine the approach and personality. Your brand strategy will work best if you’re consistent. This applies to how many times each week you post on social media, how often you respond to comments, questions, and buyer concerns, how quickly you deliver packages, and every funnel of communication with consumers.
Remember to be kind, be consistent, and maintain a consumer-first attitude. This will ensure your company gets the best user response and positive reviews.
Practice Consistency & Connection
With a clear understanding of brand guidelines and the importance of developing a clear brand strategy for your company, brand design with hex codes, style guides, other visual elements, and a brand book, all that’s left is to practice consistency and connection.
You must focus on the consumer, their wants, needs, and personal identity. What problem does your product or service solve? And why should they care? Communicate this in a clear and friendly manner. Be kind, courteous, knowledgeable, and attentive. Superior customer service is often the most important component of any brand strategy and helps beat out the competition.
Stay on-brand, follow your style guides, and remember our how-tos. Additionally, provide your consumers’ easy access to your website and social media accounts. This will ensure fewer roadblocks, seamless experiences, and an enhanced user interface.