Imagine you’re preparing dinner for your friends. On the menu tonight: Consommé. This soup made with meat, tomato, egg whites, and stock is one of the most difficult dishes to make.
Because of this, you need to pay careful attention to the instructions. Using these instructions, you’re able to pull it off and the soup is a hit!
Without this cooking guide, your dish would likely be a disaster — not to mention your friends would be pretty disappointed.
The lesson here: instructions help facilitate consistency and quality.
This holds especially true for your marketing initiatives within your company. You wouldn’t dare create a new social media campaign without considering your brand and what it stands for, right?
That’s where a brand standards guide comes into play. This brief yet thorough booklet will essentially be the Bible to your brand. Everything you need to know about creating marketing and creative content for your company should be in this guide.
Today, we’re going to talk about why these guides are so important, as well as what you need to include within your guide and the steps to follow.
No matter the size of your company, who your audience is, or what you’re selling — you need a brand guide (also referred to as ‘style guide’).
When it comes to your marketing campaigns, website, customer service, advertisements, and everything else your brand is involved in, the messaging must be consistent. When it comes to accomplishing omnichannel marketing, brand guides are essential.
A brand guide will break down everything your employees need to know when it comes to the content they create for your company. For example, most brand guidelines will contain the following:
For an example of how someone would use this guideline, let’s turn to the creative team.
A designer at an agency that you’ve outsourced some work to is assigned to come up with a billboard design for a new campaign. Without having known your brand for more than a couple of days, they’ll be able to identify which colors, fonts, and logos to use by simply reading through the brand guide you’ve provided for them.
In addition, they’ll also have a good feel for what your brand believes in and how they are positioned in the market. Most important of all, they’ll get a concrete understanding of what the main messaging should be for your brand.
Let’s take a further look at some of the details you should include in your brand guide.
The positioning statement is a basic sentence that summarizes everything you need to know about your brand: Who your product/service is for, the name of your brand, what industry you’re in, and what makes you different from the competition.
It’s the one-stop-shop for the ins and outs of your company.
Here’s an example of how to formulate your positioning statement:
To (target audience), (brand name) is the (category/frame of reference) that (unique value proposition)
Next up, you need to identify the key messages behind your brand.
A great example of this is Aerie’s brand messaging about creating body positivity through their products.
Another example could be Nike, with one of their overarching messages being to push yourself to be the best athlete you can be — which is conveyed in one form or another through all their marketing campaigns.
This is basically an elevator pitch but for your business. So, in 20 seconds or less, figure out how you would describe your brand to someone who had never heard of it. When developing this section, make sure you touch on how you create value for your customers.
This page should include your primary logo, as well as every single logo variation you have. Make sure to include when it is appropriate to use each logo (for example, maybe you want your primary logo to appear on every website page, but not on any brand merchandise you sell).
Next up is your copy page, which involves detailing how copywriters should write for your brand.
Example: “Our copy is lighthearted, not serious, and uses humor when applicable. The goal of writing our copy this way is to position our brand as welcoming and not intimidating.”
Next, create a section for your fonts. Identify two things — first, which fonts are fair game and second, when to use them. You may have a certain font in mind that should be used for all H1 copy, while another should be reserved for H2s and H3s.
Establishing the colors that your brand should use is a must as well. This will help keep the creative team in-sync. Once again, leave notes for when each color should be used (primary use vs. secondary use, etc). Think about how Apple uses a lot of neutral colors and white space in its advertisements.
Lines, dots, symbols, clip art, and images that should be used for marketing efforts is what belongs on this page. Include any of the little details that help bring everything together.
For example, if there is a certain type of bullet point you like (ie open circles), include them in here.
And of course, to tie it all together with a few examples of some of these details working together — such as your homepage, a billboard, a blog post, email newsletter, etc.
And there you have it! Now you’re well on your way to creating an awesome brand guideline that anyone can use to create consistent messaging for your company across all platforms and mediums.