Creating a Sustainable Brands Presence
Good news! You’ve successfully created an excellent brand that speaks to your audience. You’ve done your research, uncovered their pain points, and can now speak to them on a personal level. Now, there’s one big hurdle. From here on out, everything you do has to always look and feel this way. Your brand is valuable and powerful, but only if you deploy it the right way.
The influence of your company image is derived from its recognizability and appeal. The minute you start changing things up or sending different messages, you can easily squander the work that’s taken you months, and even years, to build up. However, it doesn’t have to be this scary. To avoid going against your brand or misusing your assets, you can create a simple document that will make it easy for anyone using your brand to know exactly how to deploy it—a style guide.
It may sound complex, but despite how comprehensive it is, a style guide can be incredibly easy to put together if you’ve done your work the right way at the outset of your branding efforts. More importantly, it will help you create useful guidelines that will make your future marketing and outreach efforts a breeze to plan. Ensure your brand’s endurability with a properly developed style guide.
“When you use different styles, images, colors, tones,
and messages, what you’re really doing is diluting your brand.”
What is a Style Guide?
In a nutshell, a style guide is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a set of instructions for handling everything related to writing, displaying, and using a brand. However, this short explanation doesn’t really do it justice.
Your style guide is more than a simple set of instructions. It’s a comprehensive guide that will describe everything about your brand, from the basic to the highly specific. It should include keywords, an explanation of your brand’s values, message, mission, and clear instructions on how to use visual assets.
Why Do You Need a Style Guide?
Creating a style guide isn’t just a useful suggestion. For any company that is serious about creating a brand that can stand the test of time and become a household name, it’s a necessity. The reason is quite simple. Your brand is your company’s image and calling card. When you use different styles, images, colors, tones, and messages, what you’re really doing is diluting your brand. At their core, brands gain more power and value when they’re universal and familiar.
While you may change small elements and fine-tune certain aspects of your brand, if you want it to be recognizable, people need to be able to recall even the most basic details. McDonald’s’ golden arches are so familiar because they’re always the same. The same with Apple’s iconic logo. These brands have put great effort into making themselves easily known, and their branding is very tightly controlled at every point, from colors down to the smallest detail such as the angles at which their logos can be printed.
A style guide is critical because it helps keep the team on the same page and always ensure your brand is portrayed in the same positive light.
What Goes Into a Style Guide?
While every company’s specific style guide will be unique, there are certain sections and components that you should include to guarantee your brand is always displayed the right way.
Your Brand’s Values and Mission
This is one of the most important sections to carefully develop. Your brand is built around your company’s values and goals, and because they inform your brand, they should guide any decision related to and usage of it. You should focus on creating a clear and concise value statement that will be included in the first few pages of your guide. Keep in mind that style guides are practical tools, so your value statement should include sensible information and not just lofty words.
Your Logo, its Permitted Variants, and How to Use Them
You’ve put a lot of work into creating the perfect logo, and the world should always see it as you intended it. Your logo is most consumers’ first impression of your brand, so it’s vital that they are all seeing the same thing.
Your style guide should devote a lot of space to educating your team—and anyone else who may oversee your brand—on proper use, positioning, and accepted alterations. It is also wise to include a few variants such as inverted color schemes and different name positions while always leaving the main components of the logo unchanged. This way, your logo is adaptable but always recognizable.
Your Brand’s Visual Assets
Your visual assets refer to all the other aspects of your brand that go into your logo and branding efforts. This includes aspects like your company’s color palettes, your permitted fonts, and other slight visual characteristics that can subtly define your brand. These may not be as outwardly important as your logo, but they are important because they create subconscious associations in consumers’ minds that your brand can later take advantage of.
By making sure the colors used for your branding and marketing efforts are always similar, and even that the font is always the same, you can start forming connections and leaving lasting impressions with consumers. McDonald’s may change its color schemes, but the red roof and bright yellow logo are forever a part of their brand.
Your Voice, Tone, and Vocabulary
This isn’t included in every style guide, but it’s a useful addition. Have a section in your guide that tells your team how they should communicate your brand’s values. This will help expedite and clarify the development of marketing materials and assist with outreach efforts.
More importantly, it will help assure that everyone is speaking the same language. This section should include key words to use when talking about your brand, the tone to use, and the different personas you’re aiming to reach. Make sure to include granular details, giving as much information as possible to help everyone be on the same page all the time.
Your Brand is now ready to go, and it’s time to start spreading the word! Read on to Chapter 8 to see how you can tell the world about your exceptional brand!
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