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Brand Style: A Guide and Importance

You’ve devised a business strategy. You’ve developed a product strategy. Your business has a name. Do you, however, have a brand style guide? Your brand style guide, also known as a brand guide, investigates and defines the critical elements of your brand, how they interact, and how to implement them for business growth.

Brand Style Guide

A brand style guide serves as a translation tool for brand development, ensuring that your creative assets and messaging are consistent across all media and channels. Based on extensive research and competitive analysis, it creates your visual identity and persona, as well as target-audience insights and messaging guidelines.

Your brand style guide delves into your company’s marketing pillars, such as its mission, personality, positioning, perception, and promotion.

Your brand may be customer-facing, but your brand style guide is not. It’s a set of internal guidelines for you, your employees, and any third-party freelancers or agencies involved in the development of your brand.

What Is the Difference Between a Brand Style Guide and an Editorial Style Guide?

It’s also worth noting that your brand style guide documents are distinct from your editorial style guide documents. Your brand style guide delves into the big picture of your company. It includes everything that goes into giving your brand a consistent look and feel. Your brand style guide, for example, could include information on competitors, customer personas, customer problems, and the unique features and benefits of your company’s offerings.

Your editorial style guide, on the other hand, only demonstrates how to convey these elements through wording. Your editorial style guide will be influenced by your brand style guide, but it will not delve as deeply into your thought process.

Consider your brand style guide to be the who and why of your brand, and your editorial style guide to be the how-to for your creative team.

Style Guide for Editorial Content

Your editorial style guide represents your brand’s voice as well as specific writing guidelines. It should specify which style guide your organization employs (AP or Chicago). It could include grammatical and stylistic quirks unique to your company, such as whether you capitalize titles or use a serial comma. It should also include voice preferences, such as using short, scannable paragraphs, as well as messaging tips or words you prefer writers not use to describe your offerings or your brand.

Why Do You Need a Brand Style Guide for Your Company?

Your company’s brand is how the rest of the world perceives it. Even if you have the best products or services, inaccurate or inconsistent branding will harm your company’s perception among consumers, limiting your ability to grow.

What factors contribute to effective branding? For starters, consistency. According to research, presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. Your brand style guide demonstrates to your creative team how to present your brand consistently.

Consider it this way. If your brand were a restaurant, you’d want to serve the same food every time. Customers want to know that if they order the same meal once, twice, or ten times, it will always taste the same.

Your brand style guide is a recipe book that assists everyone on your creative team in providing a consistent experience to customers. In terms of branding, this type of consistency is essential for developing brand recognition among your target audience. Consumer trust is built on this recognition.

What exactly is a Brand Style Guide?

Because each brand is distinct, so should each brand’s style guide. Yours will be determined by what is most important to your business, such as its mission and vision. However, some common elements should appear in most brand style guides to help your marketing team develop your marketing strategy or create content.

  • Analysis of Competitors
    Conduct extensive research on direct and aspirational competitors to identify opportunities to differentiate your brand from the competition. The findings of this analysis do not need to be included in your final deliverable, but they should be saved somewhere for future reference and inspiration.
  • Story of a Brand
    Tell the story of how your brand came to be, explaining what it hopes to accomplish, for whom, and why. To ensure consistency, remember to keep your brand pillars in mind as you write this story. As long as your mission is aligned with their values, articulating your mission will give your brand development purpose, resulting in a stronger overall brand that resonates more with your target audience.
  • Target Audiences
    Define the target audience hierarchy for your brand based on demographics, behaviors, and interests. Most brands should have at least two target audiences: primary and secondary.

    To humanize your target customers, create detailed customer personas — profiles of the major types of customers in your target markets. These personas assist you in remembering who you’re speaking with, allowing you to personalize your messaging.

    List the relevant customer problems for your personas — immediate, future, and lifetime — and how your products or services address them.

  • Guidelines for Messaging
    Your message should emphasize the benefits of your brand and clearly convey the value proposition — identify what distinguishes your brand from competitors and makes it appealing to consumers.

    Create a brand pyramid after you’ve established your value proposition. Your brand pyramid should include the following elements:

    1. Brand essence – a single or two-sentence thought that expresses the essence or soul of the brand

    2. Persona or Voice – how the brand is perceived by consumers; specify which tones to use and which to avoid

    3. Values – beliefs or characteristics that the brand stands for that are appealing to the target audience

    4. Emotional Advantages – how the customer is made to feel by the product

    5. Fuctional Advantages – what the product does for the customer practically

    6. Features – aspects and facts about the brand/products that can be seen and touched

At this point, you don’t need to get into specifics like phrasing and word choice, just the overall message you want to convey with your marketing materials. The specifics will be added later to your editorial style guide.

  • Elements of Design
    Your brand style guide’s visual elements reflect how your brand appears in different media. In the same way that your messaging will be reflected in your editorial style guide, the following elements should be conveyed in simple, clear-cut ways in your visual style guide, as inspired by your brand style guide.

    1. Logo
    Your logo is a simple, easily identifiable visual representation of your brand. Secondary logos and variations of the logo in various configurations, such as horizontal, vertical, and small badge styles, may be included in your brand style guide. The logo design process entails conducting research, sketching ideas, and vectorizing complete logo concepts. However, once completed, you can include it in your visual style guide to assist contracted artists or your in-house creative team in understanding exactly how they can — and cannot — use your logo.

    2. Typography
    Fonts help to create a consistent, distinct, and recognizable reading experience across all written communication, from ad copy to web headlines to emails, and so on. Choose fonts that are consistent with your brand and complement your logo when selecting your primary and secondary fonts. Once you’ve decided on your primary and secondary fonts, provide examples of how to use them across all branding.

    3. Color Palette
    A color palette is a collection of colors that will be used throughout all branding. Colors are associated with mood, which can aid in eliciting an emotional response from your target audience. They also add to the feeling of familiarity. Colors that represent your brand’s personality well, harmonize with one another, and are unique but versatile should be chosen.

    4. Brand Elements
    Brand elements are any secondary elements, such as patterns, gradients, or photo treatments, that can be used to enhance your brand. Illustrations and custom icons can also be included.

    5. Visual Standards
    Create a mood board to get ideas and outline the qualities that should be present in any brand photography. Colors, layouts, and other design elements are examples of this.

    6. Guidelines for Media
    Instructions on how to use visual elements in media, such as sample ads, social posts, and so on, along with messaging suggestions, such as words to use in captions, hashtags, and so on, are provided. Although the majority of your brand style guide will be kept private, your media guidelines should be shared with any publication or website that covers your brand.

Application

It’s one thing to develop a brand style guide with detailed instructions for executing creative across multiple channels. The application section of your brand style guide, on the other hand, demonstrates how your branding might appear in the real world.

As examples, this section could include business cards, T-shirts, billboards, and product packaging. These examples will also inspire the creation of future visual content.

Do You Need Assistance With Your Brand Style Guide?

Your brand is a carefully crafted concoction of elements. You can’t leave changes to chance or interpretation as it expands and evolves. It is critical to establish clear brand guidelines in order to chart the right path for brand development.

A brand style guide requires inspiration, a clear vision, an understanding of your target audience based on research and data, graphic design proficiency, knowledge of brand-building theory, and strong communication skills, in addition to time and patience.

Many businesses benefit from working with experienced professionals, such as a marketing consultancy, to create their brand style guide. Freedom Media Group is here to help you and your company. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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