How to Create a Brand Style Guide (Template and Examples)
Allbirds. Warby Parker. Nike.
What do all three of these vastly different companies have in common?
The power of a good brand goes beyond recognition. It taps into the story of a company, its product or service, and creates a relatable connection between the consumer and the producer.
But even the major brands of today had to start somewhere. To aim for branding as powerful as the companies listed above, the best place to start is a brand style guide.
New to the world of style guides and all things branding? Relax, take a seat, and we’ll show you everything you need to know about creating the framework for your very own powerhouse brand.
Blog Post Index
- What is Branding
- Why is Branding Important
- What is a Brand Style Guide
- Why is a Brand Style Guide Important
- How to use a Brand Style Guide
- Components of a Brand Style Guide
- Formatting Your Style Guide
- Brand Style Guide Examples
- Updating Your Style Guide
- Branding Style Guide Template
What Is Branding?
If we’re speaking technically, branding is a marketing best practice wherein a business creates a distinguishable and identifiable name, design, or symbol that separates it from other products or services (especially those within the same market).
But company branding is much more than that.
Branding blends purpose and story, direction and personality, and solidifies a voice for your company that your consumers can connect with and build loyalty with.
Some of the most valuable brands in the world currently include Amazon, Walmart, Mercedes-Benz, and Disney. These are just a few examples of the quick associations that good branding can cause consumers to make.
The trick is creating the right associations with your brand.
Why Is Branding Important?
Branding has the power to make or break a company
Truth be told, there’s no such thing as a lack of branding. There’s only good branding and bad branding. If you think you don’t have one or need one, think again. You can probably guess what kind of brand you currently have.
Things like color scheme and consistent representation, when done right, can make big differences. In fact this study from Forbes found that a strong sense of color improves brand recognition by up to 80 percent. And if you can create a consistent representation of your brand across all platforms, that can increase your company revenue by up to 23 percent!
So, as you now know there’s clearly a direct relationship between your company branding and your business’ success. If you’re looking for a way to take your business up a notch or are brainstorming ways to increase revenue, start with your company branding.
What Is a Brand Style Guide?
A brand style guide is essentially a rule book for your company that spells out exactly how your company should present itself to the world through means of colors, font, logo, photography, and more.
Essentially, it’s an internal reference tool that aims to create a sense of consistency throughout the brand in how it sounds, looks, and feels.
Some people even refer to their brand style guide as their “brand bible” to serve as the central tenets for building the company in the public eye.
Why is a Brand Style Guide Important?
Having a brand design style guide written out and accessible is important because it’s a concrete look into your company’s identity. In a hypothetical scenario, if everyone at the company quit, how would the first new employee know how to run the show? This brand guide should get them up to speed.
For brands, consistency is the basis of trust. Inconsistency confuses your customers and makes them unsure of who you are. Branding is a sense of confidence in who your company is
How to Use a Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide can be made once and referred to for years to come. There may be small tweaks and changes over time, but the core of the business should still reflect the same values.
It can be used when onboarding new employees, during a crisis, or when rolling out a new campaign.
What Are the Components of a Brand Style Guide?
A brand design style guide is a multi-faceted document, and each component is critical to keeping everything consistent across platforms. Don’t skip one, and give each point the time and attention it deserves to get it done right the first time.
1. Brand Story
Your brand story encapsulates who you are if your business were a person. Where did you come from, how did you get here, and what challenges did you face on the way? What makes you tick? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are your goals?
Your brand story should be a cohesive narrative that includes both the facts and feelings supported and created by your brand. The goal of your brand story is to inspire and create meaningful connections between you and your consumer base.
2. Purpose and Mission
Similar to the brand story, but a bit more specific, is the purpose and mission of your business. Two brands that do a great job of exemplifying their purpose and mission through their work are Warby Parker and B&H Photo.
Ask yourself what the core of your business is about — not just selling products or services and making money, but the bigger picture. What you do aim to achieve when people work with you and how to do you hope to achieve that?
B & H Photo is known for its pleasant shopping experiences, their conveyor belt, and free candy. But they’re also known for being founded by two brothers, their dedication to growing a business slowly the right way, never selling out to chains, and preserving their values through decades of doing business how it should be done.
3. Brand Identity
Brand identity is a another piece of your brand style guide. It includes outlining your companies positioning and creates a stance for your brand based on what you do, who you serve, and how you stand out. You can ask yourself these questions to get a better idea of where your brand identity lies:
- What Customer Problem Are You Solving?
- What’s Your Competitive Advantage?
- What’s Your Core Idea?
- Why Do Customers Choose Your Product/Service?
- What Pain Points Do You Solve?
How do you want to come across to others? Is your brand serious, conservative, and soft-spoken? Or is your brand loud, punchy, and full of life? Your voice should be shaped around your company’s core values — just because you want to be a loud vibrant voice, doesn’t mean you should have one.
The brand voice of Wells Fargo is quite different from that of Nasty Gal, a millennial women’s fashion company.
Your voice will influence the copy used everywhere, from your website to your social media, marketing collateral, and more.
For the voice portion, start with a list of words that support the brand voice along with a list of words that don’t. Paint a picture of the type of language that should be used when representing your company.
Your logo should be simple, yet meaningful. While it might be quicker or easier to choose a basic logo, you’ll be much better off working with a professional designer or spending the proper amount of time and energy required to create one.
In the logo section of your brand style guide, you should include the final logo as well as different iterations, the proper size and proportions, white space requirements, and a list of “don’ts” to never cross.
Font selection is another big part of brand identity design.
Will your brand use just one typeface family, or should it cover a few options to meet all your needs?
A general rule of thumb for a brand font is to choose at least two options. Fonts that are different from the logo font is especially important, as the contrast between them will help them stand out.
A seasoned graphic designer can help you nail down the best font families for your brand.
In this section of the guide, be sure to include the name of the typefaces chosen as well as the reasoning behind the selections. Also, include how fonts should typically be aligned: left, right, or center. Finally, include spacing requirements (known as kerning) to keep the visual look of the words consistent.
7. Color Palette
A color palette is one of the most visual elements of your brand. Ideally, you’ll come up with up to four different colors as the staples for your palette. Feel free to use different shades of these colors, but try not to stray far from those hues.
Designers recommend choosing a mix of different tones: one lighter, one darker, a neutral, and a bold option.
In this section of the guide, include swatches of the colors and their Pantone names. If available, you should also include the CMYK color code and RGB/HEX color codes.
Not sure where to begin with your color palette? There are tons of tools online like this one from Adobe help you develop a cohesive color scheme.
Being so involved in your company, you naturally understand which images do and do not support your brand and its values. But, employees that work elsewhere in the company may not have a sense as strong as yours.
Spelling out imagery guidelines in the brand guide is the easiest way to communicate the dos and don’ts of images for your company.
You could choose to include a collection of images previously used that define the brand well and performed the highest. You could also include aspirational images to guide the growth of your business over time. Finally, you could create a mood board of images that convey the feelings you want others to have when they engage with your brand.
9. Design Elements
Design elements include unique design elements like gradients, icons, animations, lines, or vector objects that are commonly used in your brand. If you use them currently, or think you may use them in the future, be sure to include the requirements for these elements.
What words do you want others to associate your brand with? What ideas do you want them to think of when they think of you? What terms do you want them to type into Google to find you?
Brainstorm on a list of keywords that best represent your company and write them out here for reference.
This will help your team get a quick snapshot of what your brand does and what it represents
With all the elements completed the fun begins. it’s time to put them all together.!
You may choose to compile them through a deck, which is a collection of slides. You may also decide to create a comprehensive document. Or if you want to really go the extra mile you can go the route of some companies and create an entire internal site dedicated to all things branding.
Choose the format that feels the most natural for your brand, and make sure it’s easily accessible to everyone in the company.
Brand Style Guide Examples
Updating the Guide
While the core components of your guide should stay the same, it’s a good idea to revisit it yearly or bi-yearly to make any necessary updates and changes.
As times change, it’s critical that your brand stays responsive and continues to reflect the same consistent values.
This is also a great way to continue pushing your brand toward growth year after year.
Custom Brand Style Guide Made For You
If you want the benefits and power of a brand guide without the responsibility of creating the entire thing from scratch, we’re here to help.
Our brand design team can be tasked with the job of creating the brand style guide of your dreams. All you need to do is provide us with the necessary information, and we’ll put it all together into a pretty package that you can reference for years to come.
Brand Style Guide Template
Get started on your brand style guide quick and easy!
This template provides you with all of the necessary pieces of the brand style guide puzzle. Simply drag and drop your information into the placeholders and you’ll be on your way. The template is fully editable and white-labeled. Use with Adobe programs or your favorite PDF editor.
Now that You Know the Importance of Branding, What Will You Do Next?
Whether you are just starting out with branding or you’re looking to refresh your brand these tips and suggestions have hopefully given you a fresh outlook on how to make that happen
Whatever the case may be, try these simple tricks we’ve provided and watch your Amazon advertising flourish!
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