Does your business have a brand style guide? Or maybe you are wondering if it’s even necessary? Even if you’re a one-woman show, having a style guide for your business can make a world of difference for how you show up as a brand and business owner. We call brand style guides the “bible” of your business – outlining guidelines of how you expect your brand to be represented and the future goals of the business. It might seem unnecessary, but every business should have one. Keep reading to learn a little bit about why.
What is a brand style guide?
Brand style guides, or brand guidelines, are a set of rules to follow when it comes to your business’ branding. It specifically outlines the strategy behind your business (mission, vision, etc.) as well as the rules or guidelines around your visuals (logos, colors, fonts, etc.) “Rules” may sound a bit strict, but this really helps keep your branding consistent. Consistency is key in order to make sure you are showing up the same across all platforms in order not to confuse your customer.
Being consistent and dependable is one of the best ways to build brand trust. Having clear brand guidelines does just that. It creates consistency and cohesiveness, so your clients (and future clients!) start to recognize who you are and what to expect from you as a business. Brand trust strengthens those relationships and can help grow your business much faster and with a lot more confidence!
What can you expect to see inside a brand style guide?
There are a few things we always outline in our brand style guide packages that we offer to our clients. Let’s dive into what they are and why they’re important.
Your Brand’s Story
Your brand’s story gives background on your business – such as why you started it, information about the you the owner, and who your business serves. Knowing where a business comes from helps increase understanding of where the business’ future lies and why. People buy from people, not from businesses. They crave that emotional connection and this is why your brand story is so important.
This section outlines the personality of your business through tone of voice. Do you want your business to come across as positive, honest, casual, passionate, or all of the above? On the other side, you probably don’t want your business to use negative, condescending, or naive language. Think of a few descriptive words that would describe how your business speaks to customers.
Your brands mission statement defines what the purpose of your business is for both your employees and your customers. Think of your mission statement as the “here and now” of your business. Once you have a strong mission statement you will be able to better clearly communicate with your employees and customers and show up in a way that always ladders back to that mission statement.
Your brands vision describes what your business will be like and how your consumers will see your brand in the future. We want to clearly explain the purpose of your business and where it hopes to go in the future, so everyone in the business is on board and so that it aligns to your business’ future goals.
The voice section further expands on the voice pillars section. Your brands voice is the the unique way you communicate with your audience. It must run consistently through all of your communications. You can also include the personality of the company here. The personality is the character of your business and how you represent your brand to the world!
This is the part everyone loves! Visuals include your logos, colors, fonts, patterns, sub-marks and icons to encompass the brand. It also explains how the visuals should NOT be used. This is super important for anyone who may be working with your business’ branding to know. Remember, we want everything to be cohesive and beautiful!
This section also includes photography. What types of images should be used to represent your brand? Are there specific filters, clothing, or people that need to be featured to accurately represent your brand? This is where you can include that information!
Brand style guide examples
Is your head reeling yet? Or are you ready to see some beautiful brand style guide examples?! Let’s go over a few to show what we’ve been talking about!
This brand is all about women’s empowerment and confidence. It was important that we chose visuals, colors, fonts and a photography direction that was inspiring, fun and confident. Because this brand was focused on women, we chose a warmer color palette with pops of pinks, oranges and purples to portray the lightheartedness and fun the brand portrayed. We also focused on fonts that were more bubbly and exciting. It’s hard not to look at this brand and not smile – that was our goal – to create something fun, warm and welcoming.
A small town salon was looking to create an inviting and relaxed experience for their customers and knew that a rebrand was important in order to achieve that. With a strong mission and vision we were then able to create a brand that laddered back to those statements. Visuals with natural elements, a neutral yet elevated color palette, simple yet unique fonts and a simple but moody photography direction, we were able to take this brand and highlight its inviting and confident approach, therefore attracting those customers who want an experience that is inviting and will leave them feeling confident as they leave the salon.
This brand will make you want to throw a party for any occasion! Their mission is to create a magical party experience that you’ll remember forever. So we did just that with their branding, too! We wanted to create a brand that brought the fun and made you remember them forever. With bright colors, a sophisticated yet unique font, a playful and unforgettable confetti pattern and a vibrant and fun photography direction we made sure to bring the party with this brand. You can’t help but want to get up and start planning a party when interacting with this brand.
Why a brand style guide is important — necessary — for your business
Provides clarity on the big decisions.
Every decision should refer back to the brand style guide. Does the outcome of this decision serve your audience and contribute to your mission and vision statements? It also helps when there are disagreements on big decisions. Think about who your audience is, the goal of your brand, and if this decision fits both of those.
Makes sure your short-term goals and actions are aligned with the company’s future vision.
Short-term goals and actions need to contribute to the company’s future vision. Your brand style guide gives clear direction as to whether or not these short-term decisions are going to contribute to future goals.
Easy document to hand off to any new employees or business partners.
New employees or business partners should also have a clear understanding of the brand. Everything they do (and probably what they were hired for) should work toward the goal of the business. For example, if you hire a designer, they need to know expectations related to visuals so they don’t accidentally misrepresent the brand.
Ensures a consistent voice and brand across everything you do.
Every employee needs to accurately display the brand. A social media manager should use the same voice in Instagram posts as an accountant sending invoices to clients. Remember, consistency equals brand trust!
If you don’t have a brand style guide, we strongly recommend that you get on that as soon as possible! It will make everything about your company more clear and cohesive for employees, customers, and business partners. We’d be happy to help if you have any questions or would like us to take care of creating a brand style guide for you! Browse our portfolio and contact us to dig in.