In 2022, having a clear brand identity is crucial. Without it, your business will struggle to connect with customers in a way that truly resonates.
Your brand identity is at the heart of your story. It tells the world exactly who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
But it’s not enough to merely establish your brand identity. You’ll also need to make sure that it shines through consistently in everything you do when marketing your business.
One of the best ways to accomplish that is by creating a style guide for your brand. Let’s take a closer look at why you need to establish a brand style guide before you even develop your content strategy or begin to market your business.
What is a Style Guide?
First, let’s define what a style guide is. Simply put, it’s an official way to document your brand identity and your brand assets.
You can think of it as your toolkit that you can reference when you need to communicate anything and everything about your brand’s personality and story.
This rulebook should encompass everything from your brand colors, typography, and logos to tone and messaging, core values, mission, and other guidelines for marketing and promotion.
A style guide for your brand serves as the foundation for all of the marketing and sales materials you create, but it can also be used to inform your brand’s customer service procedures and company culture.
Both internally and externally, others will look to the elements outlined in your style guide to learn more about your brand and assess whether your brand speaks to them.
Why Do You Need a Branding Style Guide?
Having a brand book or style guide might seem like a nice touch… but is it really a necessity?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” While it might seem extraneous to some, a style guide ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes to your brand.
Establishes consistency within your team or departments
Your values and tone might be clear to you, as the business owner. But that might not come so naturally to your other employees. When you bring on new hires, they’ll know very little about your brand’s identity or how to communicate your values to customers.
Presenting each person on your team with a brand book or style guide can alleviate confusion and increase cohesion. It’s a great way to unify your company and prioritize consistency.
As your company grows, it becomes even more important to establish a style guide. The style guide will remind your team of who they are and why your company matters. Having a style guide is especially key if you hire independent contractors who perform tasks like customer service or creating marketing content for your company, as it can ensure familiarity on any level.
Strengthens brand identity and recognition
Having a style guide can also improve your culture. When your employees have a clear understanding of your values and your mission, they’ll generally be more invested in their work and their place on the team.
What’s more, you’ll be able to more effectively retain quality control over all sorts of communications. Having a style guide can provide an important point of reference for all employees and increase widespread understanding of your goals.
Because style guides are often highly visual in nature, they can also increase the retention of brand-related information and help employees grasp concepts that might otherwise be less tangible.
Overall brand recognition will also increase once a style guide is created, as you’ll be able to deliver content in a more consistent manner and in a fashion that consumers will remember.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that every business needs a style guide. But how do you go about making one for your brand?
How Do You Create a Brand Style Guide?
Once you’ve decided it’s time to create a style guide for your brand, you might not know where to start. It’s a good idea to first understand that many style guides include:
- Mission, vision, and core values
- Brand personality
- Target audience or customer profiles
- Graphics, logos, and image style guidelines
- Color palette (including hex codes and RBG values)
- Typography and font hierarchy (e.g., how different typefaces are used)
- Brand voice and messaging
- Grammatical elements, vocabulary, spelling, and language preferences
- Marketing channels (print, social media, advertisements, etc.) and any guidelines specific to those platforms.
Your style guide might contain more or fewer elements, but generally speaking, it’s better to be as specific as possible. That way, you’ll eliminate confusion and maximize consistency.
After you decide what to include and have established all of these values, you can assemble your style guide. Style guides are typically presented in some kind of visual format, as descriptions aren’t sufficient when it comes to images, colors, or typography.
Having a digital style guide is tremendously helpful if you regularly work with freelancers or remote workers, but some brands go the traditional route with printed guidelines. You can also opt for an interactive version hosted online.
Now that you’ve decided on a format and know what’s going to be included, you can start building the style guide. It’s often a good idea to get inspiration from other successful businesses; while you should never directly copy anything you find in their style guide, it can point you in the right direction.
Make it easy to understand
Many branding experts recommend that you make your guide as easy to understand and apply as possible. That might include creating something super visual that mimics an infographic or including quick tips, dos and don’ts, checklists, additional resources, or real-life examples that your team can reference at any time.
While your brand guide needs to encompass a fair amount of information, you’ll want to keep your delivery engaging and concise. No one wants to read a textbook. Instead, make it more like a comic book. It should be short, sweet, and easy to read from cover to cover.
Double check and ask for feedback
Once your style guide is assembled, be sure to proof it carefully before you distribute it. This is a great opportunity to get others involved in the process – both to increase emotional investment and to ensure you haven’t missed anything important.
Your style guide should answer questions, rather than pose them. Have someone who’s familiar with your brand (and maybe someone who isn’t so familiar with it!) read over the style guide carefully to determine whether anything important has been omitted. If there are lots of questions and comments that need to be addressed, take the time to revise the guide. Your style guide is only as good as its ability to help your people succeed!
Make sure your style guide is accessible
After you’ve assured your style guide is complete, you can distribute it. Whether you send them via email, include them in employee onboarding materials, include them in your business’s cloud files, or create a company “Wiki,” make sure your style guide is accessible from anywhere and easy to locate.
Revisit and update your style guide
Finally, make sure to establish a plan to revisit your style guide after a certain amount of time. While you’re excited about it right now, understand that your brand is a living thing. If it’s going to survive, it’ll need to evolve with the times. Put a recurring meeting on your calendar – once a quarter or once a year – to revisit your style guide to make improvements or adjustments.
Use This Guide to Guide Your Brand
There you have it: your roadmap to creating your very own style guide! Keep these steps in mind and be sure to share your guide widely to benefit from a stronger brand in the long term.
Are you planning to create or update your style guide this year? Let us know in the comments!
Need help creating a style guide for your growing brand or making it coherent throughout different platforms?
As a one-stop oasis for all things marketing, The Biz Spa can help you strengthen your online and offline presence through marketing solutions and business resources. Learn more about our team and our services and work with us today!