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Brand style guide: how to create one for your business

Learn why a brand guide is indispensable for your business and be recognized beyond what your product or service offers.

Image of half of the Hotmart logo on a blue graph paper and a sketch of the other half of the logo in white - brand style guide

In the digital business universe, some of the most talked about topics are the importance of producing valuable content, creating efficient marketing strategies, and nurturing your leads.

However, have you ever thought about how a brand style guide can help your brand be recognized in the market?

Verbal identity, tone of voice, and visual identity are some of the must-have components in a good brand guide, but there are many others.

Would you like to learn about brand style guide and how to create one that makes your business stand out? If so, keep reading this post!

What is a brand style guide?

A brand guide contains all the guidelines about a brand’s image, i.e., it gathers the visual and communication elements that differentiate your company or business from others.

When we talk about image, we aren’t merely talking about visual identity – which is one of the basic brand guide components. We’re talking about how your business is perceived and recognized in the marketplace, what it reveals, and how it’s remembered by customers and partners.

A brand guide is one of the most effective ways to define how your company communicates with its target audience. This guide will lay out ground rules and standards that will be useful for everyone involved in your business, such as content creators, designers, freelance contributors, etc., because everyone will have a start and end point when they have to represent your brand, whether in writing, visually, or even in a simple post on social media.

Why are brand guides important?

Much more than mere guidelines that provide your company’s identity, a brand guide communicates your business’ entire culture and how it’s reflected in the product or service you offer. In other words, not only does it include your company’s graphic and verbal representation, but reproduces your mission and values.

Think of the brand guide as your company’s personality. This is how the world recognizes it and what it considers about it in order to create a relationship of trust. If you see someone who is constantly changing their appearance, and the manner in which they talk and act, you’ll get the feeling that you don’t know the person and therefore, they won’t be trustworthy, right?

This same logic applies to brands – inconsistency and lack of standards can drive your customers away. In other words, a guide is a great tool to help your business communicate consistently and generate credibility among your audience.  

What is the purpose of a brand style guide?

As we mentioned earlier, a brand guide is a key resource if you wish to generate a perception of consistency and trust for your business’ persona. 

But, if you still need additional reasons in order to create one for your company, we’ve listed five reasons for you to create your brand guide right now.

1. It solidifies your brand’s image

A brand guide is the center of your brand’s overall image. Even if you already have a logo or an established tone of voice, if you don’t have a document that brings them together, variations may come up at any time, which mischaracterizes your brand.

2. It helps your audience remember your brand

If you’re constantly changing your business’ image or verbal identity, you won’t become solidified in your customer’s memory, and might provide your competitors with an opening.

On the other hand, if you prepare a guide that reinforces all elements, your company’s mission and values, your audience will have an actual point of reference regarding your brand and this will make all the difference when it comes down to a decision to make a purchase, for example.  

3. It facilitates your work process

When you add all the guidelines – which make up your brand – into a freely accessible guide for everyone involved in the business, you’re avoiding several common dilemmas in your company’s daily activities. For example, mistakes that generate costs and rework, since your entire team will know where to find the information that highlights and provides identity to your brand in the marketplace. 

4. It strengthens your brand in the various media

Whether on your company’s official website, blog, a lead capture page or your social media, your brand guide will ensure that you use the elements that will allow customers to recognize your company immediately when they come across a blog post or an image on Instagram.

Besides strengthening your customer base, the guide provides security for new people to want to invest in your business.

5. It prevents them from associating something undesirable with your brand

Having the consistency promoted by a guide can help your brand not only to be recognized for what it is, but also for what it is not. What does this mean? That if your brand is misused by someone or somewhere, a customer can recognize the breach of your standard and act as an advocate for your brand by trying to find out what happened or report possible fraud in which someone is using your business name.

Structuring a brand guide

First and foremost, it’s important that you are clear about what you want to communicate through your brand guide. You certainly don’t want it to be too simple, where it can easily be confused with other brands, but you also don’t want it to be too inflexible, which will limit the creativity of those who will be using it.

The business’ brand guide should be created in a collaborative manner. Designers, copywriters, managers… at least one representative from each area should be involved in this process. If your company has a branding team, it should be in charge of the project.

Besides knowing the brand well and knowing what you want to represent with it, we will introduce you to four indispensable components to establish your identity in the marketplace:

Mission and Vision

Making it clear what your business mission is and why it exists is just as important as highlighting your vision of how far you want your brand to reach. When developing a branding strategy that aims to strengthen your brand in the marketplace, it’s essential to show what values your performance is based on. At this moment, it doesn’t matter if your mission is to solve a very specific customer pain, or if it’s something more comprehensive, such as solving a general problem, the main goal here is to stay faithful to your proposal.

Target audience and persona

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Describe, in as much detail as possible, who your customers are and why they need your product or service. Why is your product essential to solving their problem? All market surveys carried out in order to find your business’ persona are important here. They will help your team find a verbal identity and tone of voice that communicate what your brand effectively wants.

Personality

Make a list containing 3 to 5 adjectives that describe your brand. It seems simple, but this strategy can help you design the tone of voice you wish to use, and your visual identity. Is it simpler or more sophisticated? Classic or bold? 

Here, it’s also worth listing a few adjectives that don’t represent your brand, in order to stress those that do not characterize your business.

Values

Determine the principles that will guide the company’s decision-making process and actions. Values that represent your business’ culture, and with which your team can identify, will make it easier for them to disseminate your brand guide. 

Creating a brand style guide for your business

Now that you know what it’s used for and how to start structuring a brand guide for your business, it’s time to put other knowledge into practice and create your own.

In order to have a complete guide, which specifies everything that will represent your brand identity in the marketplace, pay attention to the following must-have topics.

Brand introduction 

Communicate the pillars on which your business identity is built – mission, values, philosophy, personality, verbal identity, and tone of voice.

Logo

Include specifications about the intended design, the space between elements, the color palette, and the possible scales. Here, it’s also important to define the proper and improper uses of the logo, in order to avoid mistakes and rework.

Colors

In addition to those used in the creation of the logo, define which color palette identifies your company, which combinations are acceptable, etc.

Image composition

Stipulate the basic standards so that the design reflects the brand’s intent. Create a unique and creative visual composition that makes your brand unique in the marketplace.

Icons and other visual elements

Explain how the collection of icons, commonly used in digital or print pieces, should be used, such as the “swipe up” in Instagram Stories.

Images

Specify how other images, such as brand illustrations or photos, should be used and handled.

Typography 

Yes, having a specific font for your brand is also important. Indicate how to use the fonts chosen for your brand, highlighting their size, spacing, use of light or dark backgrounds, as well as possible combinations between titles and subtitles.

You’re ready to create your brand style guide!

You’ve seen that your company is much more than the products or services you sell. A solid brand stresses why your audience should choose you over other options in the marketplace.

You can create a simple and straightforward brand guide that can fit in one page, or create a veritable book that provides every detail about your company. It will all depend on the needs of your business, your customers, and the strategies you want to use in order to reach them.

The most important thing is not to forget any of the basic elements that make your brand a benchmark, and that position it well in the marketplace.

Would you like to learn more about branding, brand style guide and how it helps you win over fans? If so, read this post on the subject.

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