Are you asking yourself “Why would I need a guide book for my brand?” The question you SHOULD be asking is, “Why wouldn’t I have a guide book for my brand?” When you are trying to build your brand and cement your name in the industry, you have to have a keystone starting place. Your brand guide is important to your brand story because it becomes a reference point for steps you take to further build your brand.
What Does a Guide Look Like?
It’s all about consistency, and your brand guide, or style guide, as it is sometimes called, is the instruction manual. It should be a representation of how you envision your brand. What’s important to you? How do you want to come off to your audience? Whatever you want your identity to be should be included in your guide. Look at these examples.
Logos, Fonts, and Styles
Communicating your brand is the main purpose of your Logo. Your audience should be able to look at one square or rectangle and immediately think of your company. Next, they will be able to make a mental list of the products associated with your brand. But what they may not realize is that reading your logo has given them a certain feeling. If your company has been around for a while, they may associate the mere sight of your logo with past experiences with your company, service, etc. If they have not had experience with you before, this logo may still evoke feelings within that could persuade them to explore deeper.
For example, the relatively new app, “Calm” was designed for users to take a break in their day to institute peace into their lives. What color background did this brand decide to use for their background? Blue, which studies have shown to be most associated with relaxation. When the entire identity of your brand is about relaxing, you want to make sure everything you use relates to it. This is the sort of thing – colors, as well as fonts, and styles – that would go into your brand guide, not just your logo, but an explanation around how it was designed.
Not on Brand
A style guide should also set clear expectations about what should not be used in brand marketing. Going back to the previous example from the Calm app, you will not find much in the way of red images or boxy lettering. Both of those examples would be more likely to bring out angry or anxious feelings in users, which is completely the opposite of Calm’s intent. These stipulations and reasonings are likely to be clearly spelled out in the brand guide for the company.
Messaging and Content
Your brand isn’t just what you look like. Before you have your first customer, you should also know what your brand sounds like. What do your potential buyers hear when you speak, whether through your written content, social media posts, or videos? Part of the Little Red Writing brand form spends time delving into the language you want to use, the emotions you want buyers to feel when they encounter your products or services, and identifying the emotions you definitely don’t want your buyers to feel.
For example, online clothing brand, Buy Me Brunch, has built its success around clever slogans with a bawdy twist. They’re not shy about the brand they’ve built, and even take the time to explain their brand position on the website. They know their brand—and therefore their products—aren’t for everyone, but they stick firmly to the brand messaging they created. And pushing boundaries works for them.
Not on Brand
It’s hard to imagine any boundaries with Buy Me Brunch, but that’s not the case. If you delve through their shirt designs and social posts you’ll find a dearth of one thing: apologies. This is a brand that knows where it stands and doesn’t apologize for it. Apologies, or showing any sign of wavering from their brand position, would disappoint and possibly even alienate their target audience. Believe it or not, sometimes crude language is a “brand do.” Can’t imagine what that brand guide looks like, though!
How Does It Help?
You may have started your company with no one beside you. You could possibly still be the only one in your LLC. But is that your goal? Probably not. As your company grows, your needs will grow too. To get in the position you most likely hope to be in – an industry leader – you can’t do it all yourself.
Leading a company involves inspiring those who work for you, and that can’t be done without good communication. Clarity in expectations makes everyone’s job easier. Specifying exactly what your brand is about will give employees, freelancers, and contractors who need to make decisions a solid foundation on which to make those decisions. It also will help to minimize any miscommunication – outright or beneath the surface – between your company and those you hope to become your clients.
You may find yourself looking back at the steps you took to become a giant in your industry. Hopefully, you will see how you followed your dream step by step to get to that place. Your brand guide is that baby book recording the steps you took to keep you on that path. See how far it will take you!
Little Red Writing uses a brief brand form to get to know our clients better. If you don’t have a brand guide, maybe ours could be a good starting point for you. If you’d like a template, reach out and let us know.