What makes that looping Coca-Cola font so nostalgic at first glance? Why do we picture Amazon’s signature colors the moment someone mentions that they have a package on the way?
The secret lies in one simple but fundamental superpower: they have a killer brand guideline.
A lot of companies assume that branding anything belongs in marketing and should stay there. This is why these little goldmines never see the light of day, gathering dust in your digital warehouse.
Let’s dive into why you need a company style guide and how to create one that works.
What is a branding guideline?
Your brand voice.
Image is important, sure but the voice of your brand is like the cream filling in an oreo. The cookie is why you crave it, the cream filling is why you want more. The voice of your brand is the consumer-facing tone. How you say things, why you sound the way that you do, and why your target audience comes back time and again.
For example, Wendy’s Twitter persona is like the fast-food version of your best friend whose tweets you’re always on the lookout for. Wendy’s even has its own Twitter holiday! (If you haven’t checked out their #nationalroastday, then do yourself a favor and take a look).
They make you laugh, but more importantly, they keep Wendy’s at the forefront of consumers’ minds. When Janet craves a burger, she’ll likely stop by a Wendy’s before the competition.
How your brand is presented to the world.
Say it with me…
What was the first thing that came to mind? If you pictured a white checkmark or instantly thought ‘Just Do It’, then that alone speaks for why your brand’s presentation is so important. From the color palette to your graphics, to fonts and logos, the brand guideline ensures that everyone is consistent across the board.
Whether you’ve onboarded a whole new web development team or your marketing team is revamping your blogs, establishing your branding strategy in a brand guideline cuts back on revisions, training, and redundant questions.
How to create a brand guideline (that works)
Brand story: The first step is to draft your unique brand story. What is it that makes you, you. Were you started in a New Jersey garage fifty years ago and still use the same recipes? Your brand story is what makes your brand unique, exciting, and memorable.
Brand voice: This one is much easier than it sounds. Your brand voice is the tone of your brand. A few key things that you should consider are your target audience, who you are, and how you want to be presented.
Your Target audience is going to dictate what you sound like. A GenZ targeting retail brand doesn’t want to sound like an investment firm targeting wealthy retirees, for example.
Logo: Having all of your logos in one place makes it easier for your team to utilize them in different ways. Maybe David in sales wants to decorate his latest email campaign with a small logo.
Without the branding guide, he might try to use the giant one on your website instead of the one meant for email campaigns and watermarks.
Color palette: This one speaks for itself. Your brand’s color palette is about more than just splashing a few colors on a page. Are your social media colors a little different than the ones that you use in your thought leadership pieces?
Are you doing something fun for an upcoming event? The rules of engagement should all be outlined in the brand guide, along with the colors’ unique HTML codes.
Typography: You may be thinking, “Are you serious? Fonts, we’re going to nit-pick fonts, too?” At the risk of sounding like a branding Karen, YES. We are throwing typography in there, too. Believe it or not, your typography is just as important as your color palette and logo.
We said what we said.
Inconsistent typography makes for a messy website and an even messier onboarding process when bringing in new marketing and design staff.
Consistency across all channels
If your ideal brand image is the buried treasure, then your brand guide is the map to get you to the ‘X’ at the end of the journey. Except you won’t have to pole vault over a crocodile pit or jump through flaming hoops to get there.
The rules of your brand’s presentation are perfectly outlined in one neat place that everyone in the company has access to, guaranteeing consistency across all channels.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to schedule that internal meeting and kickoff your killer brand guideline!