Why Every Growing Business Needs to Create a Brand Guide
When your business is small, it’s relatively easy to keep your branding organized. There is probably only one or two people making brand and marketing decisions, and you likely only have one or two branded assets to use.
But as your business grows, that will change.
As more people join your team, more branded assets are created, and your assets start to regularly change -- things can get messy.
That is why you need a brand guide.
What’s a Brand Guide?
A brand guide describes the way you present your brand to the world. It is a centralized document that outlines the look, composition, design, and voice of your business’s branding. A brand guide, or brand style guide as it is sometimes called, defines and shares examples of how your brand should look and sound.
Why Is a Brand Guide Important?
A brand guide is important because it organizes your branding, centralizes your brand style and assets, and helps your entire organization get (and stay) on the same page. When your brand guidelines are all in one place, it:
- Builds brand recognition as your brand is always consistently presented.
- Prevents misuse of brand assets which decreases brand trust and recognition.
- Builds stronger brand positioning as your key differentiators are clear and defined.
- Speeds up creative production as team members know where to find the most current, correct assets.
- Simplifies PR and local press coverage efforts as branded assets are easy to find and distribute to the press.
A centralized brand guide will save your organization time and resources while preventing problems and confusion.
So, let’s get to work creating one.
What Should a Brand Guide Include?
Use the following brand guide template to create your own brand guidelines. Include each section in your guide.
Brand Mission: Explain what your brand does to help your customers and why it is important. Your brand mission will shape your messaging, show how you fit in your market, and describe what makes you different from your competitors.
Voice & Tone: Outline the way you want your brand to sound in your copy, social media content, and messaging. Voice is the style of your messaging, and tone is the sentiment of your brand statements (professional, funny, helpful, etc.).
Branded Definitions & Phrases: Explain the use of branded terms that are unique to your business. For example, if you have products, services, or ideas with unique names you created, explain how they should be spelled and used in your content.
Logo: Include copies of your logo as well as outline the usage of your logo. Make it easy for your team to download versions of your logo. And, explain which logos should be used in certain places (like on social media, in watermarks, etc.).
Colors: Include your brand colors along with their different color codes (Hex codes for digital use, Pantone for print, etc.). Show the brand colors and also indicate which are primary brand colors and secondary palettes.
Fonts & Typography: List the different font styles that are associated with your branding. Include examples as well as explain how they should be used. Outline which is appropriate for headings, body copy, etc.
Iconography: If your brand uses icons, describe their look and use. Explain what style should be used (simple, flat, illustrated, outlined, etc.), and share icons that your brand regularly uses.
Photos: Describe the type of photos you will use to represent your brand. This will direct your team on what style of photos to choose when they pick images from stock photo sites or take custom photos for your brand.
Social Media Graphics: If you create custom graphics to share through your social media channels, explain what they should look like. Define the fonts, colors, and dimensions that should be used.
How to Develop and Distribute Your Brand Guide
A brand guide is only as good as the way you use it. So, once you create your document, use the following best practices to get maximum use out of your new style guide.
Have one finalized brand guide, and allow your entire team access to it. Organize your brand guide, and save it as one file or document in a place that your entire organization can access. Set the document as a read-only to prevent others from editing, and store it somewhere easily accessible like:
- In Dropbox or Google Drive that allows your team to easily access the guide and files.
- On a webpage or Wiki where your team can use a URL to easily find an outline of your guide and link to other files.
Assign one owner to either the entire document or a single section of the document. It’s natural that your brand guide will change over time. Plan for those changes by assigning the person who will be responsible for making them. Assign an owner to the entire brand guide or to specific sections of the guide so that multiple team members aren’t overlapping or replacing other people’s work.
Include the date on the finalized document. When changes are made, add a date that shows the most recent update. This process will help clear up confusion if team members can’t remember if the latest updates were made or changed.
Start Spreading Your Cohesive Brand
There you have it. Now, you have the template you need to create your own brand guide.
Once you have clear guidelines about who your brand is and how you will present your brand to the world -- you can start putting your brand out there. Or if your brand is already out there, you can audit your visibility and make sure that everything matches your new guidelines.
One place to start to promote your new cohesive brand is on your Local Area site.
Local Area sites are organized by area code (813area.com for Tampa, 512are.com for Austin, etc.), and they are the place where locals go to find the best things to do, see, and eat in their area.
Make sure your new cohesive brand is on your local area site so you can start attracting local customers today.