A lot of thought went into starting your business. Aside from developing the idea and the structure of your new company, you had a chance to flex your creative muscle. You came up with a great name and a logo that really communicates who you are and what you do.
Once you start marketing your new business, it gets harder to protect and promote your brand identity. There are two main reasons you’ll need a brand style guide:
To make it harder for others to misuse your style
You’ll be relying on others to represent your brand. Whether it’s the local newspaper or magazine that you’re advertising with or the freelance producer that’s creating your TV commercial, they’ll need to know how you’d like to be represented.
To make it easier to consistently use your own style
You know you’re busy working on running and growing your business. Often, when it’s time to create that marketing piece, you need to move quickly. Having a single document on-hand to remind you of proper usage of your logo, fonts and colors helps that design process move smoothly.
So what can you do to make sure your brand is represented properly as your business goes out to the wide world? That where a brand style guide comes in.
Define how to use your name
Whether you have a straight-forward name or one that a little less obvious, it’s helpful to let people know how you’d like your name used.
A good starting place is a simple story behind the name. A few details can help people remember even a more difficult company name. For example, Greek yogurt brand Fage includes the note “It’s pronounced FA-YEH” on all of their cartons of yogurt.
This is a good place to address common misuses of your name, For example, it’s Walmart, not WalMart or WalMART. You can eliminate potential confusion with a few lines on your website or in your style guide.
Explain How your Logo should be used
You (and your graphic designer) have put a lot of thought and effort into designing a logo. You’ve chosen the type face, color palette, imagery and style. Many brands have a few approved versions of their logo – full color, single color, alternate layouts, modified versions that you may use as a profile picture on social media.
Having these approved versions doesn’t mean it’s ok for other people to get creative and modify your logo to suit their needs, though. You need to outline how you’d like your logo to represent your brand. That way, your marketing team and anyone else who might use your logo to promote your brand knows what’s allowed and what’s not.
Define the approved colors
The colors that represent your brand are nearly as important as your name. Imagine the Target bullseye in green. Confusing, right?
At Mean Joe Advertising, we’ve decided on primary colors in black, a shade of darker blue and white. We use secondary colors in gray and orange.
[insert image with color swatches]
No matter what colors you’ve chosen, make it clear in your brand style guide.
You took some time to choose the fonts for your logo and most brands have chosen a secondary font for their tagline. The fonts you’ve chosen help to communicate the attitude of your company.
Specifying the size of the font and how it relates to other elements in your design ensures that you’re always communicating the same attitude.
To take your brand style to the next level, you can include your brand voice. Do you want to be conversational? Maybe you want to sound authoritative. What about a little irreverent? Are you a young and fun company? Defining your brand voice can keep your messaging consistent across all of your marketing.
The imagery you choose to represent your brand enhances the feel of your business and helps to set the mood. Photos and graphics with bright colors work well for a kids’ toy company, but maybe not for an insurance agency. Whether this is demonstrated through the photos you’ve chosen or the filters you use on social media, consistency is key. Consider adding a few example images to your style guide.
Turning your image loose in the world can be scary. Having a brand style guide that is easy to share with designers, writers, partners, and others who might be creating content for your brand is necessary to ensure your image remains consistent.