Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Your brand style guide (also referred to as brand guidelines) serves as the aesthetic for your company. It’s the design principles and visual imagery that makes your brand unique. Brand style guides allow you to present your brand clearly so you can establish trust with your audience. It is an essential tool for establishing your brand’s identity. A cohesive guide also ensures that, internally, everyone you work with is on the same page regarding your brand.
Though some may think it's not necessary to create a guideline when just starting your business, it's never too early to begin organizing your brand's style. After all, these elements are how customers will identify you. Even if you are still testing out designs and colors, you should always keep a record of what you’ve tried in the past. Documenting your fonts, colors, and images during your discovery process are essential to building a consistent brand. Not only will the consistency of using the same colors and fonts keep you organized, but it will also show professionalism and build brand recognition. Think about it, if you have no formal documentation of the fonts that you use and you pretty much just wing it as you go, how will your target audience become familiar with your company? Colors, images, shapes, and icons all play a role in creating a memorable impression.
Brand style guides ensure that you’re communicating a consistent message across all of your marketing channels. These guidelines are also beneficial to designers and internal staff members working on marketing projects. Having a reference of what to use and when to use it ensures a unified look in every piece of marketing material created. Brand style guides provide the necessary direction to ensure the messages and values you’ve established are mirrored on a day to day basis. After all, your brand is one of your most important assets. By taking the time to maintain consistency, both clients and staff will understand the value of your company. Keep in mind, your brand style guide is not something you share with your clients, this is an internal document only shared with staff and anyone else who is helping you design content.
Style guides also influence the perception others have of your company. How many times have you seen a flyer that looks like its been slapped together and decided not to take that business seriously? When you publically promote your company, whether it is via a social media post or a printed flyer, you are sending a message about who your brand is and what your brand values are. Think beyond your logo and color palette, your brand style guide also consists of your brand personality, how you communicate and engage with your audience. The words, phrases, and jargon that you use to promote your product or services.
Most importantly, your brand style guide communicates your design standards to your entire team. Having this document of reference makes the process much easier for your graphic designers, printers, and web developers. It saves everyone involved in the creative process lots of headaches, plus it saves you money! Many designers may charge extra for additional changes beyond a specific round of revisions so its best practice to avoid wasting time going back and forth about minor things such as matching font or color.
Bottom line, a brand style guide is a low-cost investment that produces large results when marketing your business.
It's a simple formula:
CONSISTENCY + COHESIVENESS builds BRAND IDENTITY
A CLEAR BRAND IDENTITY builds TRUST
TRUST promotes VALUE
And VALUE generates SALES...CHA-CHING!!!