A Brand Style Guide: Why You Need One

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Whether you run a business or are a sole practitioner, branding and establishing a clear identity is worth its weight in gold. But what exactly does this mean and what does it entail? What the hell is branding anyway? Have no fear: I’m going to lay it all out for you, loud and clear.

The difference between your logo and your brand

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding what a logo is and what it means to participate in the ‘branding’ process. Your logo is a mark, plain and simple. A logo should be simple, clean, and recognizable at any size. This logo should encapsulate your business and serve as a compelling introduction to the brand itself.

A brand is the strategy surrounding the mark that allow you to communicate your passion, expertise, values and user experience.

Branding on the other hand, encapsulates the feelings that you want to evoke from your customers and the inspiration that you hope to instill. The act of ‘branding’ involves the messaging, supportive imagery, tone of voice, visual queues and the overall experience that you’d like your audience will have with your brand.

Think of it this way: a logo is essentially a graphic element with a name. A brand is the strategy surrounding the mark that allow you to communicate your passion, expertise, values and user experience.

When combined thoughtfully, a successful logo and a solid brand strategy will enable you to reach your audience, communicate your message, value, and benefits in a way that is pleasure for your target audience.

By establishing a consistent brand identity, you can determine how your customers view and interact with your business. Think about it as your company’s personality. If one of your friends changed their look and behavior all the time, you would begin to feel like you don’t know really know them  and you might begin to lose your trust in them

What is a brand style guide?

A brand style guide is a highly visual document that defines your brand’s look and feel across all channels. This guide will help you to save time, provide clarity and provide peace of mind as you begin to build a team and scale your business.

Brand Style Guide

The following elements highlight a few elements that could be added to your brand style guide.

  • Logo
    Give examples of your logo and how it should be used in different formats including full color, black & white, transparent or any other backgrounds. You can also include the rules around placement, size, and the formats.
  • Typography
    List the font families, sizes, colors for every content type you might have such as headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, etc.
  • Links and Buttons
    Define the colors and styles for your links and buttons, especially if they are different depending on its use: submit button, form button, or simple link.
  • Imagery and Photography
    It is also important for you to define the style of imagery and photography. Do you show people on photos? What kinds of peoples should they be? Will they represent your target market? Also make sure you have usage rights to the photos you use.

Why do you need a brand style guide?

Brand Style GuideA brand style guide sets guidelines to communicate a consistent brand identity. These guidelines are composed of rules and restrictions on how to use your brand’s visual elements, such as logo, typography and colors.

By keeping your brand consistent, you will make your company more recognizable within your industry and make an easier appeal to your target market. It may take time, but with the help of a brand style guide, your brand will begin to differentiate itself amidst the pack.

The absence of a consistent brand style guide may result in a mixed marketing message that can confuse your customers. It’s incredibly important that you create a brand style guide, it’s kept up-to-date and made available to your entire team!

 

Helpful Links:

What Are Your Brand Colors Really Telling Customers

What Your Logo is (or isn’t) Saying About Your Business

 

About the Author

Tara Johnson

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Tara has been a web and print designer for 10 + years and a photographer for over 15. She began AlchemyThree because she saw a need for a more complete, thoughtful and innovative digital marketing experience for businesses of all sizes.

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