Your brand is what makes or breaks your business.
Studies show, time and time again, that brand recognition builds trust—and that the majority of consumers buy based on that trust.
Your brand takes the heart and soul of your company, including its vision, values, and personality, and translates that in a way the consumer can understand. Branding is no small undertaking, which is why businesses should plan theirs carefully.
Creating branding guidelines is a great way to set out the foundations of your brand for future reference, whether you’re working with a new agency or you need teaching tools for new hires. To get you started, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to branding guidelines, ensuring that you consider each facet to be included.
The main form of your logo should be carefully outlined in your branding guidelines, in full color.
In addition, you’ll want to include any variations of your logo that your brand might use. For example, if you have text and an image in your logo, you may want to include a version of the logo with the image alone, or a version with just the initials of your company name. You’ll also want to include any small responsive logo you use for a mobile-friendly site.
In addition, you’ll want to include the details of the color palette you’ve used, including its specific HTML codes. (If you don’t know yours, try an online tool to help).
Your typography is a part of your brand’s personality, so it’s important to capture it in your branding guidelines. Include any font used in your logo, as well as the font used in the headers, subheaders, and paragraphs of your website. This should also include details of the font size.
The main colors used within your logo, often called the “primary colors,” are a critical component of your branding guidelines. However, you may also want to note any “secondary colors,” or complementary colors you often use in association with your brand.
In addition, add any web (RGB) or print (CMYK) colors used in your advertising and marketing.
The photos and illustrations associated with your brand can help showcase your personality, which is why it’s important to get your brand imagery right. To develop a consistent style, it can help to include a series of appropriate and inappropriate photos. And in today’s world, you may also want to include the spectrum of icons you use on your website and any associated apps as well.
This is a great way to help readers understand, at a glance, what kind of imagery you’re looking for in your website, social media posts, and beyond.
Your website is a critical part of your company, acting as a point of service and online storefront of your brand. As a result, it can help to include screenshots of key pages of your website, including their appearance on phones and tablets. This can help web designers understand what you’re looking for.
In certain cases, you may also want to include more specific information for consistency. For example, if your type interacts a certain way with your imagery as a rule, or if all of your pages fade as the user scrolls, this information should be included in your website’s style guide.
Through the research you’ve done to understand your customer base, you should be able to identify ideal members of your target audience. This can include demographic data, goals and needs, location, and more.
With this data, you should develop fictional “buyer personas” (also called “marketing personas”) that help you understand your ideal customer. With this information, you can align your content with the needs, background, and style of your customer base.
Storytelling is a key way to grab attention and earn loyal brand advocates, so it’s worth putting time into documenting your brand story. Your brand story should showcase your challenges, passions, pain points, and ambitions, and it should also help your audience identify with your background.
Brand Tone of Voice
Your brand’s tone of voice influences the way you communicate with your audience, and how people receive your message and story. Does your brand have an informal and friendly tone, is it educational and authoritative, or are you more emotional and over-the-top? Whatever your tone, it can help to include the details—with examples—of your specific voice when building your brand.
Brand Values and Vision
One thing you shouldn’t overlook is your brand values. They might seem like a minor detail, especially since they often amount to a small collection of words or a concise sentence, but your values should really pack a punch while showcasing what’s most important to you.
Your vision—also called a “mission” or “purpose”—is what takes those values and puts them into practice. What is your brand aiming for? What do you want to achieve?
Create Ongoing Branding Guidelines
While all of the steps above will help you create the perfect set of branding guidelines for your company, it’s important to remember that this document shouldn’t be set aside once complete. If you’re like most companies, your brand will change over time—and your brand guidelines should change with it. Be sure to update this document on a regular basis to make the most of your efforts!
Want more of the tips you need to build a successful business? Check out our other posts for more insights.