February 22, 2023

What’s A Brand Guide And Why You Absolutely Need One


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There exists a simple yet sophisticated brand guide that underpins every major brand in the world. They’re the reason you recognize brands like Coca-Cola, Amazon, or Red Bull, for example, and can associate characteristics and sentiments with them.

A well-designed style guide plays an important role in building brand recognition. A brand style guide (also known as a brand book or brand guide) specifies everything from your color scheme and fonts to your tone of voice and brand values.

Because every business has diverse needs, the logo design and visual identity part of the branding process can take up to months. Not to mention all the details that go into presenting your company's identity and mission. Nonetheless, establishing brand guidelines is worth the effort for several reasons that you will learn about shortly.

What Is A Brand Guide - An Overview

A brand guide is a document that contains the visual identity of a company, as well as rules and procedures for communicating with the public. Basically, business plans and product strategies define how a company will run and grow, and brand guidelines describe how it will communicate. 

This covers digital and print content, from your brand's social media activity and post-purchase interactions with customers to the business cards you hand out at meetings, media releases, and so on.

This is the brand's identity at its core, a framework featuring the brand's genome, layered with particulars, ranging from the fundamentals – the brand's mission – to its more subtle attributes. 

A brand book gives your brand a sense of unity and consistency while capturing its essence. Its guidelines specify basic logo-related specifications, color schemes, typefaces, and visual elements, as well as the company's mission, strategy, image, and core principles. 

Most often, brand books aren't created for consumers but rather for staff, stakeholders, and project collaborators. Although, that doesn’t mean that readers aren’t interested in viewing them, especially those the company relies on. As an example, there are players who wish to create their own mods for video games that require brand guides from the game companies. 

But as you read, that’s usually not the case

Components of A Standard Brand Guide

It is important to create a brand book that outlines all of your company's principles and standards. This will guarantee that your team – particularly your marketing department – will have a clear understanding of the language they must use, what design rules to adhere to, and what business principles to follow.

However, your brand book will be useful to more than just your marketing department. You should provide your workers, vendors, and freelancers with a thorough yet concise document that outlines the essential components of your brand, their interrelationships, and their implementation in order to grow your business.

Yes, the document is intended for a wide audience, and it must include:

  1. Visible aspects of a brand
  2. An editorial identity for a brand
  3. A company's mission, background, and core values

It is important to note that the components of a brand guide differ from sector to sector, so customize them accordingly. But generally speaking, there are a few things every successful brand book should have:

  • Brand name
  • An overview of the brand's story, philosophy, and goals
  • Brand logo, its variations
  • Icons
  • Color scheme
  • Tone of voice
  • Keywords
  • Formats of communication
  • Fonts, sizes, and style variations
  • Brand images and examples of how the brand can use images in its marketing strategy
  • Uses and abuses examples

Handy Tips on Creating a Brand Book

Having established your brand guidelines, you should consider them a constantly evolving, living part of your company. Your brand guidelines should adapt as your company evolves to meet market needs, develop better products, and expand your customer base.

All the work that goes into creating a brand style guide might seem too much at first. However, everything can be easier with a little help and expert guidance. Follow these tips, and you will have a powerful brand book in no time.

Know Your Brand Before Making A Brandbook

Branding is more than just a marketing strategy, it's the backbone of your business. Consequently, obtaining marketing tools alone doesn't help you understand your brand. The key to building the perfect brand guide is knowing your company's identity, the reason for its existence, and its strategic goals.

Considering that you have never even thought about these things before, you may have a lot on your plate. Although learning your brand intimately is definitely a process, a structured approach to getting to know it well is actually much simpler than you might imagine. 

Essentially, you should think of it as a way to learn more about yourself. Start by asking questions like

  • Who am I selling to?
  • Why am I selling it to them?
  • Where did I start my journey?
  • What motivated me to initiate this project?

After that, think about how you and everyone in your organization can present who you are and what makes you unique to others. Besides describing who you are to your existing and potential customers, your brand influences their impression of you as well. 

To know your brand is to:

  • Know your audience
  • Know your competition
  • Know your culture
  • Know your value proposition 

You can also learn a lot about your customer base by exploring your company's brand. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of their needs, preferences, and expectations. Also, don’t forget that a brand identity does more than just enhance your brand recognition; it gives your brand more credibility.

Your business strategy can take off once you have a well-established brand identity.

Be Original And Detailed

An organization's brand book serves as a way to communicate key information to your team and potential customers, so it's important to include accurate and relevant information.

Analyze your direct and aspirational competitors carefully to find ways to differentiate your company from the competition. It is also better to provide as many details as possible after you’re done with your research. 

For example, don’t just stop at defining values and style themes. Describe how colors, typefaces, and graphics can be applied in different situations when creating a brand identity.

Everyone Should Be On Board

The best way to get your team to embrace your new brand is to make them feel like it is their own. It goes without saying that they’re bound to feel more connected to your brand if they are involved in the development process. That’s why a company brand guide should be the result of a collaborative effort. 

The executive team, creatives, marketers, and editors all need to be involved in some way. If the company has a branding department, it would be a perfect fit for this project. Additionally, your company can find great solutions by involving employees from different departments, which would never have been thought of by the branding team alone.

But Why Do You Need A Brand Guide?

Creating a brand identity may not be one of your first thoughts when starting your own business. There is no doubt that creating a brand book can be a tedious task and is best left for the later stages of brand development. Some might even wonder, “how is having brand guidelines necessary for my business?” 

Well, brand books are well worth the time and effort we put into them because of the long-term benefits they provide. It takes skill to build a brand identity, which is why brand guidelines cannot be ignored or regarded as an optional feature. It is better to have it solidified sooner rather than later so that a company can maintain the core values it holds dear.

Customers evaluate your brand on the basis of its identity, style, core principles, and many other factors before contacting you regarding a product or service. This comes as no surprise; after all, a company's brand and image play a crucial role in determining its values.

You can prevent marketing pitfalls and ensure that every employee and division represents your brand appropriately by developing a set of clear guidelines for promoting your brand throughout the organization.

And figuratively speaking, it is important to keep all the elements of your brand identity in one handy document that employees and freelance contractors can refer to. But of course, there are many more reasons why your business needs a brand guide, and here below, we’re going to explain five of them in more detail.

Message Consistency & Clarity 

Almost every industry relies on brand consistency to make money.

It doesn't matter what size your company is; creating a brand book will help organize things for employees and convey an accurate and personal picture of the company to clients. The more elements of your brand follow a brand guide, the more cohesive your brand's message appears.

Every member of your sales, marketing, and support departments interacting with prospects on a daily basis, and even those like your financial manager, who talks about the company's activities at conferences, should have a thorough understanding of your organization's defining traits.

Improving Brand Positioning

Consistent branding helps your brand stand out in your industry as well as with potential customers. 

Did you know that following the same branding guidelines for all your marketing materials–including website articles, Facebook posts, and AdWords–can help you increase revenue by 23%?

As long as you use your branding elements correctly and consistently, your brand will not only be successful and easily identifiable, but it will also appear professional at all times.

Take Google as an example. As soon as you see those four colors, you immediately know which company you are working with. This is due to Google's carefully crafted brand guidelines clearly defining what colors constitute 'Google' colors.

Future Reference

By referencing this document for standards, you will make life way easier for illustrators, copywriters, and programmers and provide them with a framework that they can use to get started.

Brand guides can also be helpful during recruitment, re-branding, and launching an entirely new company. In fact, creating guidelines governing your brand's identity will help you steer your marketing efforts in the right direction even before you begin brainstorming.

Setting Ground Rules

There will be more than just different keywords and color palettes in the guide, it will also include regulations detailing what is and isn't allowed. For instance, your brand book will show examples of how those keywords and colors should NOT be used. 

After all, knowing how you can use those brand colors effectively is just as important as knowing what colors you’re allowed to use.

The purpose of brand guide rules is not to instigate restrictions but rather to keep your brand identity consistent and identifiable. There are different channels that these rules apply to, such as websites, print publications, newsletters, and even employee gatherings.

Connecting With Prospects

Last but not least, it creates a connection with the customer, giving them a complete picture of your company and showing them that it has an active, dynamic, ever-evolving brand with its own character and message.

Brand guides provide you, your employees, and anyone else communicating on behalf of your brand the tools they need to remain true to your brand's image. By doing so, they bring together all the elements of your brand, allowing you to build a brand identity that goes beyond your products and make a connection with your audience. 

Next time your brand is mentioned, your target audience will know who you are and what you represent as soon as they hear it.

Establish Credibility by Letting Professionals Handle It for You

Having a comprehensive brand guide ensures that your business is competent, assertive, and appealing to those who come into contact with you. Branding mistakes harm consumers' perceptions of your company, which reduces your growth potential, regardless of how good your products or services are.

In addition to internal communication, establishing a brand style guide will ensure that your communication is consistent with your partners, associates, and clients. And yet, businesses tend to conflate lofty, generic vision statements with detailed information, in-depth analysis, and market research necessary to create professional brand guidelines. 

There is only one chance to make a first impression during the customer journey, so why ruin it with bad branding?

JM&Co. digital marketing agency brand development services can help you adjust your existing brand for better reach or completely redesign it, creating a brand guide that better engage your target audience, increasing sales and lead generation.

Contact us to get in touch with one of our talented, seasoned, diverse, and international team members devoted to your success.

A Final Word

You can think of a brand style guide as a digital manual that details all aspects of the appearance and personality of your brand. In addition to serving as an internal resource, a style guide can be shared with clients, collaborators, journalists, and advertising firms to inform them of the proper way to communicate your brand.

As a style guide defines the rules governing a brand's identity, it's important to take the time and invest the resources to ensure it's done right. However, sometimes even the most sophisticated marketing department might have problems understanding how brand guidelines work, how valuable they are, and how they contribute to defining, preserving, and establishing your brand identity. But having professionals like JM&Co. by your side makes all the difference. 

We hope you found this article useful when creating a dynamic brand guide you can confidently share with your stakeholders. You can find more useful articles about brand marketing on our blog.

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