A brand is a vital asset to any business. It helps shape the personality of your company, connect you emotionally with consumers and establish value and loyalty. A brand is key to any effective marketing strategy to remain ahead of your competition.
Brand guidelines (sometimes referred to as a ‘style guide’) help a business document and define these characteristics. Essentially, they are a set of tools and standards around the visual and verbal application of your brand and how to communicate this across both printed and digital platforms.
So why are your brand guidelines so important?
- Ensuring brand consistency and value – From the second a potential customer views your logo, visits your website or picks up a brochure, they gain a perception of your company. If this experience is disjointed it can have a damaging effect. Consistency is essential in ensuring your business is professional and reliable. It suggests that you take pride in your business and its products. This helps increase customer trust and loyalty, and ultimately, results in more sales. By adhering to a set of rules and restrictions, your brand will be cohesive and consistent at all times.
- Setting rules and standards – A brand is more than just a logo or colour palette. It can be complicated and subjective. Quite often there will be multiple users, from copywriters and social media managers to graphic designers and web developers, all working with the brand in varying capacities. Brand guidelines are not intended to limit creativity, but they do ensure all users work with the brand in the same way and adhere to the same do’s and don’ts.
- Providing tools and assets – There are a number of important elements which form the basis of your brand including logos, colour swatches, fonts and other visual assets. Brand guidelines offer a central resource for all of these assets and the tools needed to work on a new design or campaign, whilst maximising productivity.
- Avoiding confusion, but providing inspiration – Without clear and concise guidelines, a brand can be vague and subject to misinterpretation when applied in practice. Brand guidelines provide a more streamlined and cohesive approach, eliminating any confusion and queries around its application. Inversely, if the guidelines are too restrictive, this can limit creativity. An effective style guide will strike the right balance between keeping output consistent, but inspiring the user to be creative with it.
What should be included in your brand guidelines?
Brands frequently evolve over time due to changes in marketing strategies, trends and technologies. Businesses may look to seek or invest in new markets, digital platforms, audiences and opportunities. As a result, business brand guidelines will develop too and may become very expansive and detailed. However, there are a few basics that should appear in almost every style guide:
- Logo design and application – Every brand needs a logo. This is the face of your business. Guidelines should detail how the logo is displayed in different formats, as well as any size restrictions and standards around maintaining maximum legibility.
- Typography – Guidelines should list all typefaces used in your company branding, often detailing the hierarchy of font sizes and applications. They should include fonts used for both print and digital (‘web-safe’) formats.
- Colour palettes – Colour is a fundamental element of your brand. Guidelines should display colour swatches including CMYK and RGB values to ensure they remain consistent across both print and digital formats.
- Tone of Voice – The tone of voice and verbal messaging reflects the personality and values of your business. Guidelines should detail the language used throughout your branding, often listing examples of messaging in practice.
- Imagery and assets – Often brands use distinctive photography, imagery, illustrations and icons. This section should list the style or bank of tools available at the users’ disposal and how they should be applied in practice.
Want to know how we can help your brand?
As part of our service offering at The Dairy we deliver our very own award-winning brand planning workshops, which are designed to help build a new brand or refresh an existing but perhaps tired one.
If this sounds like something of interest to you or your business, our team would be happy to discuss your brand’s needs further. To get in touch, email email@example.com or call us on 0115 977 0221.