Your brand is the personality of your business. Without it, you have no image, no direction, and no differentiating factors from your competition. It’s what sets you apart and makes you recognizable; it's the heart and soul of your business. Your brand incorporates everything from your purpose to your values, and it's what narrates your company culture. Building a brand involves much more than just creating a logo, although that's certainly a part of it. Your brand is the sum total of every interaction your customers have with your business, from their very first impression to their continued loyalty (or lack thereof). To create your brand masterpiece, you need to be intentional about every aspect of your business, from your customer service to your online and offline presence. And one of the best ways to do that is to create a brand style guide. Having a brand guide will not only make sure that everyone in your company is on the same page when it comes to your brand, but it will also make it easier to outsource work because you'll have a clear and concise document that outlines your brand standards. Not sure where to start? We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about creating an outstanding brand guide.
Definition: Brand Guide
A brand guide, or brand style guide, is a document that contains essential information about a brand. This includes the brand’s history, purpose, values, voice, and visual image. A brand guide is used as a reference by anyone who works with or represents the brand, to ensure that all communications are consistent with the brand’s image. Creating a brand guide can be a helpful exercise for any business, big or small. It can help simplify and streamline communication internally and externally, and ultimately make your brand more recognizable and cohesive. If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck. At Wizard of Ads®, we help businesses of all sizes create brand guides that capture the essence of their brand and reflect their unique image. Book a call with us today to learn more!
Elements of a Brand Guide
As we've mentioned, brand guides are used as a source of truth for everything related to your brand. So, what are the fantastical elements that make up this truth? Here are a few that every brand guide should include:
Your brand story is how you create a bond with your future customers. It tells the inspirational tale of how your business came to be, and the sacrifices you made to get there. What have you, as a business owner, sacrificed and why? Are you willing to share that story? Jonathan Haidt, the author of The Righteous Mind, once said, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor. Everyone loves a good story; every culture bathes its children in stories.” Your story is what shapes and defines your tribe. When your target audience hears your story, it should persuade them to join your tribe and take action — whether that's buying your product, signing up for your service, or investing in your brand. Your brand story is the emotional glue that bonds your customers to you. It's what sets you apart from your competition and makes you unforgettable.
You cannot expect your audience to be enthusiastic about your brand until you find a way to inspire them first, and your logo is one of the best ways to do that. People naturally need to inhale inspiration first, so they can exhale enthusiasm. You inspire them, and in turn, they'll bring the enthusiasm. When creating your logo, you need to ask yourself this: Does this image represent who we are as a brand? Does it inspire those around me? To ensure your brand logo accomplishes this, be sure that you have attention-grabbing visuals, whether it's something abstract or an image that's easy to remember. Your brand logo should also be timeless, so it can be used for years to come without looking dated. And finally, make sure your brand logo is adaptable, so it can be used in a variety of contexts and still look great. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box and take some risks, it could pay off big time for your brand in the long run.
Choosing your brand colors isn't as simple as randomly selecting a color palette you like. There are a few things you should keep in mind, such as the psychology of colors and how different brand colors can affect customer perceptions. You'll want to use color as a way to bewitch your audience into feeling whatever feelings you want them to have, whether it's green for growth, blue for serenity, or yellow for happiness. The colors you use in your brand guide should be reflective of your brand's image, and easy to remember so that customers can identify your brand quickly. They should also be consistent across all platforms, from your website to your social media accounts.
Typography and Font
Believe it or not, something as subtle as your brand typography and font can make a major impact on how people view your brand. Just like your logo or slogan, your font should reflect your values, and give your audience a glimpse of your inner face. It has just as much power to symbolize a thought or feeling that cannot be brought to words. That is why it's imperative that you avoid choosing a font that is considered an eyesore to your specific audience, or that clashes with the overall aesthetic of your brand. Your brand typography and font should be able to capture attention and communicate a message without being too overbearing. In other words, it needs to be both readable and visually appealing.
Your brand imagery is more than just a simple visual image that enters the eyes of your customers. It should bring about a powerful mental image that is much more complex. This mental image can consist of sight, sounds, touch, taste, smell; opinions, and emotions, as well as memories - both conscious and unconscious. This can be done by using shapes, colors, symbols, words, or even music to produce an image in the mind of your target audience. When done correctly, brand imagery can be a very powerful tool that can help to increase brand awareness, build brand equity, and ultimately lead to more sales.
To harness the attention of your future customers, you need a sharp, consistent brand voice that communicates the unique personality of your business. You want your customers to read your content or hear your advertisement and immediately know that it's coming from your company. To make sure your brand voice is on point, it's important to say more in fewer words. And that is done best when your message is both specific and vivid. For example, instead of saying, "we're the leading brand in the industry", you might say, "we have more 5-star reviews than your grandma's Italian cooking”. Do whatever it takes to get your message across in a way that is memorable, meaningful, and authentic.
The True Purpose
At this point, we know what a brand guide is and the elements that make up an influential brand. Now, let's uncover the true purpose of a brand guide and what it can do for your business.
The first main purpose of a brand guide is to ensure consistency across all touchpoints. This includes making sure that the colors, fonts, logos, and other visual elements are used correctly and consistently. This will not only help to ensure that the overall look and feel of a brand is maintained across all communications but also tells your customers that you are professional and trustworthy. Whoever is working on building your brand will be able to reference your brand guide and ensure that everyone is aligned with the same vision.
For Quality Assurance
Additionally, brand guides are essential for ensuring quality across all touchpoints of your brand. By providing clear guidelines, you can ensure that your brand is consistently represented in a way that meets your high standards. For instance, if your graphic design team is responsible for creating social media posts, they will need a brand guide to make sure that each post is up to brand standard. This includes using the correct colors, fonts, and images that are associated with your brand. Without a brand guide, it would be easier for your social media posts to miss the true message or appear unprofessional.
Eliminate Negative Impact
We know, rebranding is a huge pain, which is why having a simple branding guide is so useful. It'll keep your brand consistent, and save you time and money in the long run. This is because, with a brand guide, you and your team will have all of the information you need in one place. So in the event that there needs to be some changes or adjustments, everyone will be on the same page. Not to mention, it'll be a lot easier to train new employees on your brand standards. They will be able to easily reference the guide, and won't have to rely on you or other team members to remember all of the details.
The Key is Consistency
Your brand style guide should be clear, concise, and easy to follow. Every company has its own way of doing things, but some basic guidelines will help you create a consistent brand image.
- Use the same font throughout your materials.
- Make sure all brand elements are consistent with your brand image.
- Pay attention to the small details – they can make a big difference!
- Always proofread your materials before sending them out.
- Keep your brand style guide updated as your brand evolves.
These days, first impressions are everything. And in the business world, your visual brand image is often the first thing potential customers will see. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your branding is on point, and consistent across all your marketing materials.
Your Business’ Bible
So, what's included in a brand guide? Everything! The makeup of all the principles and values that you as a brand embody, with the curated formula you need to make it come to life — think of it as your business’ “bible.” When you're just starting out, building a brand guide can be overwhelming. That's why we're here — to take care of everything for you so your business can shine both online and offline. At Wizard of Ads®, we specialize in creating brilliant, disruptive brands that will get you noticed. If you're ready to start building your brand guide, book a call with us today and let's get started!