Whether you’re a new or an established brand, having a brand style guide(also referred to as brand guidelines) is an important part of maintaining that brand. Put it this way, you’ve (probably) poured immeasurable time, energy and money into creating your brand and, unless you manage it, you could end up damaging what you’ve only just established. Nobody wants that.
But before we look at why a brand style guide is so important, let’s explore what it actually is.
What is a brand style guide?
A brand style guide is a manual for managing your brand—both for you, your employees and anyone else who touches your brand in the future. It doesn’t mean it can’t be updated or tweaked as your brand develops, but it sets the standard. Within your brand style guide, you’ll find the variations of your logo design, your brand colour palette, typography and any other rules or requirements people may need to adhere to in order to ensure your brand is not watered down. This may include tone of voice, language, imagery or web styles.
So, why is a brand style guide important?
Your brand style guide ensures that your brand maintains a sense of continuity. Each and every single time one of your customers engages with your brand—be that via your website, emails, business cards, social media or any other customer touchpoint—it imparts a sense of who you are and what you stand for as a business. You want the perception to be that your brand is consistent, that it shows a level of professionalism, care and a drive to truly engage with your audience.
Here are three more reasons a brand style guide is a must.
1. It's your go-to 'how to' guide
Your brand style guide is how you set the rules and standards for the way your brand is used by everyone in your team. You can identify when to use a wordmark, when to use a logo and any specifications regarding the hierarchy of typography and colour on your page. There may be particular rules associated with your brand image that everyone needs to adhere to. For example, maybe you never want to use photographs on social media, only ever illustrations. Or there are particular words you don’t use when connecting with your audience because they don’t fit with your brand.
2. Consistency leads to association
When your brand is consistent, it’s easier for your audience to recognise you in the marketplace. This means that your audience will see your logo, or even just the colours, typography or tone you use and will immediately associate that with your brand. Ultimately this is what you want—and what will lead to long-term success. Think about how recognisable brands, such as McDonalds or Nike have been able to build such a strong association with their brand that you only have to see the golden arches or the tick to know exactly what it represents. These are brands that have adhered to brand style guidelines and are now reaping the rewards.
3. Perceived value
Your brand identity is essentially the perception your audience has of your company. The consistency your brand style guide encourages, doesn’t just build better recognition within the marketplace, it also helps to build trust with your audience—and this leads to a greater perceived value. A consistent brand is reliable, a consistent brand is professional—since you never want your audience to see you as anything but, a brand style guideis integral.
I have a brand style guide, now what?
Okay, so here’s the thing. A brand style guide is useless unless you implement it and ensure all of your employees or current/future design team adhere to it. Make sure everyone gets a copy and you go through the ‘how’ of putting the guidelines into practice so everyone is on board. Also, make sure that going through the brand style guidelines is part of your induction routine so new employees are clued up as well.
Don’t have a style guide? We can help. As branding specialists, designing a brand style guide is something we can do in our sleep. Connect with us, or learn more about why branding is more than just your logo.