When it comes to building a brand, consistency is key. If your brand is humorous and witty one day and grim and serious the next, or if your logo has one look on your product packaging but a completely different look on your website, your customers may struggle to identify who you are and what you stand for – and that can translate into less sales and less interest overall.
An easy way to ensure brand consistency is to create a style guide. This guide should cover all the “rules” of style and use of your brand, and can be used by all members of your staff to keep your brand consistent across all media. But before you start building your own, the members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs recommend that you consider these nine points to thoroughly prepare your style guide.
1. The image you want to display
A style guide helps with consistency across the brand. Everyone can communicate in their own way and in their words with a consistent tone of voice. You do need to make sure that the guide is made to fit the image the organization wants to project and how it relates to your target audience. Getting this right is crucial, as the guide defines all of your branding and messaging activities. – Sujay Pawar, astra
2. How many people will use it?
It’s important to keep in mind that different people should and will use the guide, so it should be as detailed as possible so that everyone who sees it can seamlessly create something recognizable and professional for the brand. Add different logos, colors, fonts, sizes, and guidelines for non-designers. Make it super easy for everyone to use, and they’ll use the guide. Make it complex and your brand will be a mess. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
3. Industry best practices
Consider industry best practices when creating a brand style guide. The way a target audience perceives brands in a particular industry can be completely different from other industries. Every industry has different dynamics and you should definitely keep this in mind when creating a brand style guide. By using industry best practices to design your style guide, you can create a brand identity with a greater chance of acceptance with potential customers and a greater chance of success. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable shapes
4. Your target demographic
Like most business decisions, it all starts with your target demographic. Which aesthetic do you know your audience will respond to the most? That should be at the heart of any decision you make at the design level. Bold, vibrant colors may appeal (generally speaking) to a younger crowd, but a sleeker, minimalist look is likely to attract an older audience. Keep your audience in mind in every decision you make. Why? Simply put, they are who you sell to. No one’s opinion is more important in business than that of your customer base. So, when putting together your style guide, think about what your customers will respond to positively. Of course, your input is also important, but the opinion of your audience should always remain your top priority. – Nick Vendittia, StitchGolf
5. How Third-Party Entities Can Use Your Branding
A brand style guide needs a section on how other people and entities outside your organization can use your brand, company name, and logo(s). First, make sure your brand name and elements are trademarked so that you understand how far you can actually protect them. Then create a section in your style guide that explains how, when, and where others can use your trademarked names, icons, and so on. For example, are they allowed to place your logo on their website? In a blog post? In their marketing materials? Can your logo be placed on other images or does the background need to be blank? Should they contain a trademark symbol? Which trademark symbol should they use and when? Do they have to get permission? All these questions and more should be answered in your style guide. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com
6. Your desired tone
Using two key fonts that stand out (and are legible) can create brand awareness in itself. But just as important are the ways in which your tone comes across to the viewer. Often the person looking at the screen sees the brand on multiple social media and online channels. Whether it’s in your signature block, a tweet, or a TikTok, the company’s personality needs to be consistent. Making it fun, casual, or professional is a choice that needs to be consistent in both words and fonts used. If the company’s tone or personality shifts across platforms, it can lead to a fatal disconnect between the company and its brand and prevent consumers from trusting or believing in the overall company. – Lauren Marsicano, Marsicano + Leyva PLLC
7. Your color palette
Your company should have a clear color palette that is usually patterned with your logo – including characters and the brand persona. There should be a consistent color palette for the font, photos, logos, packaging, and even brand character. In general, the color should stand out and your brand persona should shine brightly as expected. – Daisy Jing, Banned
8. Your brand story
One of the most important things a company needs to do if it wants to build a brand style guide is create the brand story. This involves more than writing down company history. Creating a brand story is putting the facts of the brand into a story that others love to read and be inspired by. It evokes emotion and loyalty and also identifies the brand and its mission. The brand story should be an important part of the style guide. – Baruch Labunskic, Rank Safe
9. What comparable brands do?
When it comes to creating a strong and consistent brand, having a style guide is essential to ensure all branding materials are cohesive and brand specific. Whoever you are trying to reach with your brand will inform you about the style choices you make in your guide. That’s why when you first create your brand style guide, it’s essential to research the other brands that your target audience is very similar to. Always make sure that the style and tone are appropriate for the people you are trying to reach; otherwise you risk taking out your top clients. Diving deep into the brands that excel in image, color and message tone will yield a gold mine of insights. – Richard Fong, Insured standard