Branding Basics: Style Guides

April 2020

A brand is only as good as the process of duplicating it. If you can’t hire someone and have them define your brand in the first week, then you’ll likely need tweaks to that branding process. Your brand is defined by the first perception – the look and feel someone thinks of when they see or hear your company’s name. How do you want someone to describe your brand? Brands need to have a repeatable process across all mediums in order to maintain consistency in those first perceptions. This is where your brand style guide kicks in. Everyone from the founder, marketer, to sales employee needs to keep your brand uniform. Your brand style guide is the reference source to your company’s mission, vision, value proposition, and visual identity. This uniform identity will establish your brand as trustworthy and clear.

An effective brand style guide has 7 components:

1. Brand Strategy: Proposition, Vision, Mission, Purpose, Values, Customers

2. Logo: Master Logo, Logo Misuse

3. Colors: Brand Colors, Hero Color, Secondary Color

4. Typography: Typeface, Typeface Weights, Use of Type

5. Imagery: Photography

6. Stationary: Letterhead, Business Cards, Envelopes, Email Signature

7. Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube

Brand Strategy

Your brand strategy gives meaning to who your company is,the identity that you are looking to encompass, and the primary goals that you wish to achieve. This includes your company’s

Logo

Whether you design your logo or work with a graphic designer,your logo brings your brand’s identity to life. Most brands have, at minimum,two versions of their logo: a wordmark and a brandmark. A wordmark includes your company’s full name (think Google or Subway) or a brandmark (Twitter’s bird or Nike’s check mark). Your style guide should include the proper and improper use of your logo. Misuse includes changing the color, adding shadow,or altering the proportions. These are all big no-no’s.

Colors

Each brand has a distinct shade of color used throughout all of their collateral. Coca Cola’s red and McDonald’s yellow are some of the most identifiable brand colors out there. Brand colors can be defined in three different formats:

Each color can be identified by any of these codes. We recommend up to 2 primary colors and up to 3 accent colors to be included within your style guide.

Typography

It’s all about that typeface. Consider the weights within a particular font family, the variety in usages and possibly combinations between serif and sans serif typefaces. For example, you may want to use Roboto as your typeface but Roboto does come in 12 different weights. Your style guide should include the typeface (and weight) that should be used for:

Imagery

Each brand comes to life through imagery. Your brand's photography style should capture real life moments and offer a glimpse into your company's product/service, culture, and mission. Consider various size photos for banners, advertisements, social media and reports. Photos should highlight who you are as a brand and what you are seeking to accomplish.

Stationary

Stationary may be considered old school to some, but at minimum, at brands should have business cards that feature their brand's logo, colors, and typography. Depending on industry, business cards are usually considered the staple when networking and meeting other executives or vendors. Supplemental stationary pieces including letterhead for invoices and reports, envelopes for sending, and PowerPoint templates for presentations. Make sure your email signature matches your branding stylebook as well with your logo, color, typography to match.

Sample Business Cards
Sample Letterhead

Social Media

Russel Brunson, author of DotCom Secrets, highlights in his book the power of clicks - and that all clicks are not created equal. Whether you rely on social media (and its click-through rate) or not, social media has become the standard in branding. Start a social media platform only if you can maintain it. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Facebook have become the most popular throughout the years but they vary based on your product/service and industry. When you do open up your social media account, make sure your branding style guide is followed. The essence of your brand should carry through in the content promoted throughout as well.

Consider vertical options for hero images
More common circle profile asset

Need a brand style guide, but don't know where to begin? Get in touch!

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