Brand Style Guide: Marketing Tools Every Business Needs in their Shed

[ So you've got a brand, what now? ]
by Pia Rees-Rogers Published

I often get asked, what can I do today to build a strong brand and my answer is always consistent. A brand style guide takes all the elements of your brand and translates that into one easy reading document. The purpose of a brand style guide is to communicate how to properly execute your brand to uphold consistency.

Kick off your Brand Style Guide with your Brand Story

Every great Brand is driven by a truly compelling story. Everything else in your guideline should stay true to this story. The Brand Story provides context, so if anyone picks up your Brand Style Guide they understand what your Brand stands for. If you are thinking, my brand does not have a brand story? Then use this simple framework to compose yours.

Company Vision

The Company Vision is a set of ideas that describe the progression towards a future state. Vision statements get the company thinking about their aspiration and final destination once their company vision has been fulfilled. Be imaginative.

Company Mission

A mission statement describes why a company actually exists. It should be short and clear. For example, Walt Disney's mission statement was 'To Make People Happy'.

Company Core Values

This part is pretty self-explanatory. What does your company value, which it will incorporate into their service/ product offering and keep at the forefront of their business? Is it dependability, consistency, flexibility?

Logo

You may know what is your logos primary color, but do you know how it is going to look in different environments? The Logo section of your brand guideline displays all the variables of your logo to ensure it is used in the way you have intended. This also prevents mistakes such as stretching, spacing around the logo, sizing, etc.

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Include all approved versions of your logo and include the situations where you may need to use each one.

  • Size: Show size and proper proportions
  • Space: If a logo requires a certain amount of white space, highlight that in this section of the style guide. I have found it is always useful to use elements which exist in the logo already to display proper sizing.
  • Colors: Show the different variations of colors available and the situations where they may need to apply the logo in this way. I always suggest a white version


Colour Palette

Defining the color palette only requires a quick reference. Most brands only choose four hues and do not deviate from these defined colors, except in opacity. When picking your color palette it is a good idea to pick one feature color which pops (or not in the case of Apple), one darker shade for lighter objects to go on, one lighter shade for darker options to go on and a more neutral hue which suits a lot of different choices.

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In your Brand Style Guide, provide the information needed to reproduce these colors.


Typography

An often overlooked part of identity design is Typography, or what fonts your Brand will use. When deciding on your Brand typography, pick a few different fonts for different elements.

Choose a font which will primarily be used for titles, this should really be big, bold and eye-catching. A second font which will be used for text which is to add a little further context to the title. Then, a third font which will be reserved for the body of text. I suggest using a font typeface with different weightings to uphold consistency. As well as, using a few other defined fonts to represent your brand, because different circumstances may suit different fonts.

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Often, it is best to choose a few different variations of fonts which look slightly similar and for platforms. Such as, when using Adobe Suite, Email Templates, Content, Website, Blogs, you need to use your Brand typography. But this typography may not render properly for Microsoft Suite etc. So it can be beneficial to have a secondary Brand typography guideline which suggests fonts if the primary option is not available. This secondary typography should be email client friendly.

Don't forget to describe in your brand guideline how you would like this typography to be used. Is it left-aligned? Centered? What is the spacing between lines? Include all these elements in your Brand Style Guide.


Imagery

Imagery is one of the most important elements of Marketing, period. Megabrands use every feature of their imagery, down to the hue to represent their brand and impress their look into the mind of their consumers.

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Imagery is evoking and the right type of imagery is priceless. We, humans, are a visual creature. Images capture the imagination of your audience and help to understand context without needing to read all the fine print. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand the importance of good marketing photos. The right styling and consistent imagery will not only convey quality but also help successfully tell your company story and create seamless alignment across your brand.

If you do not have your own imagery and are instead using stock images such as through ShutterStock or Pexels. It is beneficial to create a mood board to display the best practices when it comes to your brand's imagery.

Tone of Voice

You need to meet your customers where they are. So many companies overlook how they need to actually speak, abcd, to their audience. Your brand voice widely affects how your customers will think about you. As important as it is to define what your Brands tone of voice is, it is important to highlight what it isn't too. If you are trying to appeal to a marketplace of young teenagers who ride dirt bikes, then using phrases such as 'exponentially' and 'robust', probably isn't going to warrant much of a reaction from them. To be honest, it will probably push them away because they do not feel like their attitudes align with your brand. Build on your brand persona, think about how your Brand would speak.

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Include phrases, buzzwords, examples of paragraphs that represent your Brand and has worked in the past. Make sure you apply this consistent throughout all your content and marketing activities.

Hooray! You are done, now the hard work begins. I urge you to add a Brand Style Guide to your Marketing Shed today!

Pia Rees-Rogers
read more by Pia Rees-Rogers

Pia is an inbound marketing enthusiast who is experienced in both B2B and B2C marketing.

With knowledge in brand strategy, content marketing and digital marketing. 

She has worked in a variety of different business models and industries internationally, but now applies her passion for marketing and branding to the businessDEPOT group through digital and content marketing.

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