What is a Brand Style Guide and Why is it so Important to Develop One NOW?


What is a Brand Style Guide and Why is it so Important to Develop One NOW?

If you’re like most Americans, you might be exposed to up to 10,000 different advertisements in a single day.

Pause for a moment and think about the brands that really stand out—the ones that you’d immediately recognize.

Even though you see so many advertisements, it’s likely that only a handful of them stand out. Maybe it’s the soft drink on your desk or the car you drive, but most people would be hard pressed to write a list of more than 100.

Odds are, the brands that really stand out and remain in your memory for longer than a few seconds are the ones with easily recognizable branding. If you’ve been a customer for years (or even if you haven’t), a certain image comes to mind almost instantly when you think of those brands. You know what they look like and what they represent.

This is the benefit of a coherent, consistent brand style guide. In this post, you’ll learn the difference between a brand style guide and a brand guide—they are different, but they can’t exist without one another.

The Difference Between a Brand Guide and a Brand Style Guide

A lot of the time you’ll find that “brand guide” and “brand style guide” are two terms used interchangeably. They are in fact different, but you’ll need to understand and have a plan for both to maximize the effectiveness of your branding efforts.

A brand style guide, sometimes called a manual of style, is relatively straightforward: this is the documentation which lays out the standards by which your business documents are designed. The goal is to “bring to life” your brand guide (discussed below) with cohesive design elements.

A great brand style guide lays out the colors, fonts, and other visual aspects of your documentation, white papers, and advertising materials—although some businesses will also lay out their requirements for general communication. For example, a real estate company might have a brand style guide which includes instructions on how certain documentation or advertisements need to be presented in writing.

A brand guide is a little different insofar that it’s less concerned with design elements and more with the information, goals, and vision that sets the stage for your manual of style. A brand guide acts as the foundation for the design elements.

How well these two concepts marry is largely dependent upon the skill of the consultants, designers, and marketing experts on your team. A talented branding expert can “translate” the vision and key values of your business into a brand guide easily understood by the others responsible for developing your brand. Similarly, a talented designer can understand the message behind a brand guide and once again “translate” it into a visual representation that captures the essence of your business.
A good brand style guide is a roadmap that expresses your core message in an instant. Click To Tweet

Creating Your Brand Guide

How you create your brand guide is largely dependent upon the industry you’re in and the general message you want to convey to your target demographic. Generally, you’ll want to begin by answering a handful of questions:

  • What is your brand’s ultimate vision?
  • What is the history behind your brand?
  • If you had to designate a “personality” for your brand, what would it be?
  • What is the general tone of your brand?
  • What is your mission statement?

Once your brand guide has been created, you’ll likely move on to figuring out your brand style guide.

Creating Your Brand Style Guide

After the creation of your brand guide, the brand style guide for your business is usually created in conjunction with a talented team of designers. You’ll want to consider things like:

  • What should your logo look like?
  • What color scheme will you use?
  • What fonts will your documentation, website, and other materials use?
  • What kinds of imagery or photographs best represent your brand guide?

At this point, you’ll have both components of your brand laid out and ready to bring to life.

Pulling it All Together

Once you have both the brand guide and the brand style guide put together, you’ll be ready to begin implementing both. From this point forward, the brand which represents your business will have a singular vision and style—if done correctly, you’ll stand out from the crowd, members of your target audience will remember you, and your customer retention will improve. Furthermore, your business will have a substantial amount of added value, making your asset more attractive to investors or perhaps even buyers if you ever decide to sell your book of business.

Final Considerations

Developing both your brand guide and your brand style guide can be a challenging process, but once you do it, you’ll have documentation that will serve you for years—perhaps even the entirety of your company’s lifespan. If you’d like to learn more about how the team of branding gurus at Design Ninjaz can help get you started, please feel more than welcome to get in touch with us today.

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