Your brand needs protecting and so a Brand Style Guide sets out the fundamental rules of the use of the brand and its business principles.
A Brand Style Guide keeps everything about your brand identity consistent and is something tangible to refer back to. Broadly, there are two types of information that make up a Brands Style Guide – Brand Identity and Corporate Guidelines.
Depending on the size of your business, you may have some or all of these elements documented in different formats. If you are a start-up, this type of information may only live in the brains of the founder and the person who does your design work – as the business grows this becomes increasingly unwise.
The more people your company employs and the more you want people to ‘live’ the brand, the more formally this information needs to be held and distributed. So before you start creating a Brand Style Guide, consider who will be using it, what they will gain from using them, where and how it will be accessed and why they being produced?
Key elements of a Brand Style Guide
1. Logo – guidance for size, use of colour, incorrect use and proper placement; the brand logo must be visually consistent.
2. Colour – specific primary and secondary colours and combinations of the colour palette; consider the emotional connection that will communicate a distinct personality; break this down for online and digital.
3. Font / typography and imagery – what typestyles to use, and detail the font family and when they’re appropriate and differ for both online and offline communications;
show image style and photographs that work with the brand..
4. Template toolkit – positioning of logo, address information on letterhead, business cards, press release, e-signature, PowerPoint presentations, signage and if applicable livery.
5. Digital – positioning, use of logo and its assets in style sheets, banner advertising collateral and social media tools and usage.
6. Tone of voice / editorial style – the tone/personality of your brand, if formal, friendly, casual, approachable, technical? How you may capitalise (or not) product names and think about the attributes and themes you wish to convey – include examples.
7. Core purpose – the brands history, mission statement and key values need to be communicated clearly, understood and adhered to.
8. Brand messaging – its positioning in the market, key characteristics / iconic imagery, its essence or promise, differentiators from competitor brands, and expression to target audiences.
9. Brand filters – this may outline the types of businesses with whom you do and do not business; your pricing policy, if you discount? Describe ‘Who We Are / Who We’re Not’.
10. Target audience – unpack the key components of customer information so you may develop fictional personas to personalise product/service offers appropriately.