Growing your brand can feel impossible if you don’t have a clear idea of what your brand is all about. If you can’t figure out what makes your brand unique, you won’t be able to get customers to care — and that will undoubtedly stunt your growth.
You’ll need to define your brand internally before you can effectively market it externally. And for many organizations, that starts with creating in-depth brand guidelines to ensure your brand identity and strategy are consistent and perfectly coordinated. But what exactly is involved in creating brand guidelines? And what should they include? We’ll answer some of those questions below.
What Are Brand Guidelines?
Firstly, what are brand guidelines? Brand guidelines, sometimes referred to as a brand style guide, are essentially a set of standards found in a comprehensive document that you can reference to ensure every aspect of your brand is clearly defined and easy to communicate. Typically, brand guidelines will cover both visual aspects of branding and components of marketing strategy. These guidelines can be used to establish and grow your brand, both internally and externally. Basically, you can think of your brand guidelines as a manual or rulebook that informs you about how your brand should look, sound, and feel.
Why Are Brand Guidelines Important?
Some business owners might wonder why it’s necessary to go to all the trouble of creating brand guidelines. After all, you know your brand better than anyone… right?
In theory, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that your personal identity is the same as the one your business will have. What’s more, your business will evolve over time. The identifying characteristics, values, and visual trademarks that your brand had in its infancy may not feel authentic or appropriate after five or 10 years. And if you have employees on staff or work with partners to fulfill your products and services, remember that all of these individuals need to understand your brand just as innately as you do. Your brand guidelines can help fill in the gaps and allow for greater consistency in every aspect of your operations — from customer service and sales pitches to TV advertisements and digital ads.
Without brand guidelines, you may end up confusing customers (and your own team!). Consumers will buy from brands they trust, and that starts with an understanding of who your brand truly is. When your business can’t seem to present a unified concept of identity, values, or visual imagery, it’s likely that customers will move on to one of your competitors. And if even your own employees don’t understand your brand on an internal level, you’ll struggle to grow.
How Can You Start Creating Your Brand Guidelines?
Now that you understand the important role of brand guidelines, you might be wondering what they should include and how to start creating them. At a basic level, your brand guidelines should include:
- Your logo design and variations
- Your brand colors
- Your brand fonts
- Your brand images (photography and illustration examples)
- Your social media assets (headers, avatars, content)
- Your marketing material mock-ups (business cards, flyers, letterheads, signage)
- Your brand website design
- Your audience personas
- Your brand story and positioning
- Your brand mission
- Your brand’s values
- Your brand tone and messaging
- Your brand competitor data
- Your brand identity and personality
That’s a lot of ground to cover, which is why many businesses will bring in an expert when they’re starting out or rebranding. With their help, you can define each one of these components in a way that feels true to your brand and that can guide every decision you make in regard to your business.
Of course, it’s essential that your brand guidelines are aligned with your digital marketing initiatives. Once you establish your brand guidelines, you’ll want to communicate all branding information to any of your digital partners (like your SEO agency, your web developer, or your marketing consultant) to ensure consistency across all channels.
Your brand guidelines or style guide can play a crucial role in your ability to encourage emotional buy-in and to grow your business over time. By referencing this post as a jumping-off point, you can more adeptly define what your brand is all about and how you’ll communicate everything about your brand to the world around you.
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