Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Nine Points You Should Consider Before Building Your Brand Style Guide

When it comes to brand building, consistency is key. If your brand is humorous and witty one day and then stark and serious the next, or if your logo has a certain look on your product packaging but a completely different look on your website, your customers may struggle to identify who you are and what you stand for—and that can translate into fewer sales and less interest overall.

One easy way to ensure brand consistency is to build a style guide. This guide should contain all the “rules” of your brand’s style and use, and can be used by all members of your staff to keep your brand consistent across mediums. But before you get started building your own, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council recommend you consider these nine points to help make your style guide a thorough one.

1. The Image You Want To Portray

A style guide helps with consistency across the brand. Everyone can communicate in their way and in their words with a consistent tone of voice. You do need to make sure the guide is created to match the image the organization wants to portray and how it relates to your target audience though. Getting this right is crucial, as the guide defines all your branding and messaging activities. – Sujay Pawar, Astra

2. How Many People Will Be Using It

It’s important to keep in mind that various people should and will be using the guide, so it must be as detailed as possible so that anyone who sees it can seamlessly create something recognizable and professional for the brand. Include various logos, colors, fonts, sizes and guidelines for people who may not be designers. Make it super easy for anyone to use, and they will use the guide. Make it complex, and your brand will be a mess. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

3. Industry Best Practices

Consider industry best practices when building a brand style guide. The way a target audience perceives brands in a particular industry may be completely different from other verticals. Each industry has different dynamics, and you should definitely consider them when building a brand style guide. Using industry best practices to design your style guide helps you create a brand identity with greater chances of acceptance among potential customers and a higher likelihood of success. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Your Target Demographic

Like most business decisions, it all starts with your target demographic. What aesthetics do you know your audience will respond to most? That has to be central to every decision you make on a design level. Bold, vibrant colors may capture a younger audience (generally speaking), but a cleaner, minimalist appearance may likely draw in an older demographic. Consider your audience with every decision you make. Why? Because, simply put, they’re who you’re selling to. No one’s opinion matters more in business than your customer base’s. So, when building your style guide, consider what your customers will respond positively to. Of course, your input is important too, but your audience’s opinion should always remain your highest priority. – Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

5. How Outside Entities Can Use Your Branding

A brand style guide needs a section about how other people and entities outside of your organization can use your brand, business name and logo(s). First, make sure your brand name and elements are trademarked so you understand how much you can actually protect them. Then, create a section in your style guide that explains how, when and where others can use your trademarked names, icons and so on. For example, can they put your logo on their website? In a blog post? In their marketing materials? Can your logo be placed on top of other images or should the background be blank? Do they have to include a trademark symbol? Which trademark symbol should they use and when? Do they need to get permission? All of these questions and more should be answered in your style guide. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com

6. Your Desired Tone

Using two key fonts that stand out (and are readable) can create brand awareness on its own. But just as important are the ways in which your tone comes across to the viewer. Often, the person looking at the screen is seeing the brand on multiple social media and online channels. Whether it’s in your signature block, a tweet or a TikTok, the company’s personality needs to be consistent. Making it fun, casual or professional is a choice that should be consistent in words as well as in any fonts used. If the tone or personality of the company shift over different platforms, it can lead to a fatal disconnect between the company and its brand and prevent consumers from trusting or believing in the overall business. – Lauren Marsicano, Marsicano + Leyva PLLC

7. Your Color Palette

Your company should have a distinct color palette that is usually patterned with your logo — characters and the persona of the brand included. There should be a consistent color palette for the font, photos, logos, packaging and even the character of the brand. Overall, the color should stand out and your brand’s persona should shine bright as expected. – Daisy Jing, Banish

8. Your Brand Story

One of the most important things a company should do when they want to build a brand style guide is create the brand’s story. This involves more than writing down the company history. Creating a brand story is putting the facts of the brand into a narrative that others enjoy reading and feeling inspired by. It evokes emotion and loyalty, and also identifies the brand and its mission. The brand’s story should be a key component of the style guide. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

9. What Similar Brands Are Doing

When it comes to creating a strong and consistent brand, having a style guide is key to ensuring all branding materials are cohesive and on-brand. Who you are trying to reach with your brand will inform the style choices you make in your guide. Therefore, when you’re first creating your brand style guide, it’s essential to research the other brands your audience strongly aligns with. Always make sure that the style and tone are appropriate for the people you’re trying to reach; otherwise, you risk turning off your top customers. Diving deep into the brands that are perfectly executing on imagery, colors and tone of messaging will provide a gold mine of insights. – Richard Fong, Assured Standard

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