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A Comprehensive Branding Guide for Businesses

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

A branding guide, also called a brand’s style guide, is a rulebook containing instructions on how to present a brand to the world. It includes everything from the brand’s vision to its voice. As a critical business document, it ensures clarity and consistency at every level of brand communication. it’s important for customers to experience your brand in a uniform way, regardless of where they connect with it: online, loyalty program, email, in-store, on your Facebook page, or when speaking with your sales representative. 

It is this consistency of communication and clarity of thought that births a successful brand. To get an idea of what a brand does for a business, look at these branding statistics.

  • 59% of shoppers buy from a brand they are familiar with.
  • 94% of consumers respond to an authentic and transparent brand personality.
  • 62% of buyers share their favorite brand deals with their friends and family.
  • Signature color can boost your brand recognition by 80%.
  • Nearly 13% of consumers would pay more if they think your brand is making a positive impact.

If the brand is a perception, it is the branding guide that creates and sustains it.

Essential Elements You Need in Your Branding Guide

While this guide can be as comprehensive or as brief as you want, certain elements of a brand must become a part of it. These essential components of a brand guide are our topic of discussion today.

1. Brand Vision and Mission

Include a vision and mission statement in your style guide to help your employees, partners, and audiences understand why your business exists and where you want to take it. You can also use this section to talk about your brand’s core values and personality. Both these things help clarify your brand in people’s minds and inform the larger marketing strategy for your brand.

Suppose everyone understands your hopes and dreams about your company and how your chosen design communicates those. In that case, everyone involved can take better care of your brand representation and ensure a more cohesive brand communication strategy.

2. Logo Design Guidelines

example of Uber logo design
Uber Brand Guidelines

Logo design is a highly visual brand asset. Most people, when they think of a brand, it is the logo they are picturing. Therefore, to ensure your logo remains consistent no matter the medium or the platform, use all kinds of rules and specifications you can think of to protect your brand identity.

Here are a few details that you must include in this section.

Logo Construction: Share the thought process and details behind the construction of your logo. Explain your reasoning behind the rules, and empower your audiences to understand and connect with the psychology of the brand.

Logo variations: If you use more than one logo in your branding (such as a black and white version or a reversed logo), outline the exact ways each version can be used.

Spacing: Most brands, like Uber, use precise spacing rules in their logo design. Make sure to outline yours so there are no mistakes when using your logo on multiple mediums.

Color: Specify the colors of your logo. Include the relevant codes so even if someone outside your company ever works with your logo, they know which exact shade to find.

Ratio: Your logo’s ratio needs to remain consistent across mediums and sizes. State the size and ratio proportions, so any time your logo is resized, the relationship between shape and clear space is always maintained.

Placement: Brands are also selective about the placement of their logos. If you never want your logo to be placed a certain way, include it in the style guide.

Every time you address any of these specifications, make sure to include a list of don’ts too. Everyone needs to know what is permissible and what isn’t.

3. Brand Color Palette

Color is sometimes the most powerful brand communicator. Most often, colors decide our gut reaction to a brand. Since our cultural and psychological associations are so strong, when we spot a particular color, we immediately form impressions about a brand that is usually harder to change later.

That is why outlining exact information about your brand’s color palette in the style guide is critical. Add color swatches in the guide to give people a visual reference. You can also add inspirations there to educate your users on why you chose specific colors.

Do not forget to add relevant codes, so your logo and other assets are always presented in the right shade. The three most essential color codes to include are HEX codes, RGB codes, and CMYK codes. If you don’t know all these codes, here is a great informational tool to find out the different color codes for each color in your palette.

4. Brand’s Typography

Image: IBM

Your brand’s typography system consists of fonts and font families you’ll be using throughout the branding. Some brands stick with one font family to present a cohesive picture, and others like to spice it up and add contrast by using different fonts to make their message stand out.

Figure out which way you are leaning.

Use this section to introduce your fonts and their various uses across your branding. Specify rules about kerning, letter height, alignment, and other ratios to keep things consistent. If you want a specific font for headlines and nothing else, state that. If your photo captions always need to be a particular font size, make sure to communicate it.

Be as precise as you want. The precision will ensure an exact representation of your brand and help you control your brand story’s narrative.

5. Brand Voice and Tone

Your brand’s voice and tone are an integral part of its brand identity. It helps get a clearer picture of your brand. It is through a consistent tone that your audience can associate specific attributes with the brand. A brand’s tone and voice play an important part when we think one brand is cool while another is innovative, one brand is warm and positive while another is ambitious and forward-thinking.

Voice:

It is the part of your personality. It’s the way you talk and the words you use. Your voice determines whether you come off as positive, warm, and friendly, or cool, hip, and glamorous. Your voice determines your ad language, your customer services tone and complements your overall brand personality.

Tone:

The tone reflects the way you alter the way you communicate to your audience depending on the context. It takes into account the nuance of what your audience is going through right now and adjusts the pitch or sound of your voice.

When you are talking about your brand voice in your style guide, make sure to use lots of examples to help clarify your points. Dedicate a whole section to adjectives that best describe your brand personality. You can also pinpoint if you want any tone changes during different stages of the buyer journey. For example, you can start by being helpful, and near the check-out, your tone can become slightly more enthusiastic and congratulatory to connect with the inner feelings of your consumer.

Whichever way you decide to format this section, try to be as detailed and explanatory as possible, so nothing is lost in translation.

The Takeaway

Your brand’s style guide handles the consistency with which you communicate to the public. The more precise and detail-oriented it is, the lesser room it leaves for interpretations. Make sure to keep your brand guide closest to your brand ideology for the maximum impact on your customers, marketers, and the general public.


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