WHAT Is a Brand Guide and WHY Do You Need One?
If you want your company to connect with consumers, you need to increase your brand awareness. A brand guide helps keep your business on strategy, remain consistent with customers and keeps them loyal to your product or service. But what a brand guide is, and why is it critical for the success of your business?
What’s a Brand Guide?
A brand guide is a written manual that features branding guidelines for your company. It helps your staff—mainly your marketing and design team—understand your brand’s value and how to leverage it for optimal success.
Companies that stick to a single set of brand guidelines are often more successful than companies that don’t. Your brand strategy is what drives your mission, so you need a manual that employees, designers, and marketers can use to stay consistent with the company’s mission and message.
What Should Be in a Brand Guide?
Your brand guide might be just a few pages long, or it could look like a short book. A detailed set of branding guidelines ensures your branding stays consistent and that you offer the same level of service at every point of interaction with your customers.
So what goes into the making of a brand guide?
- Details of your company’s purpose. This section includes your company’s history, mission, corporate philosophy and values, and anything else that paints a clear picture of your company to other stakeholders or customers. Your company’s purpose is the “why” that many leading entrepreneurs reference when talking about their success. It’s what drives you to do your work and serve your target audience.
- Visual design identity and assets. These include external branding images, like your logo, that make it easy for consumers to recognize your brand. They also act as a brand style guide that includes specifications for your logo’s use on signage, marketing collateral, and other customer-facing branding opportunities. As a brand style guide, it can act as a place to keep font and color palette preferences and other approved images for marketing consistency.
- Social media and content strategy. If you want to reach as many customers as possible, chances are you not only have a website or blog but a solid presence on various social media platforms. Your brand guide should also have a style guide that keeps your company’s voice consistent across all platforms. It’s an integral part of providing the same level of customer service to all your customers, no matter how they interact with you.
Why Do I Need a Brand Guide for My Business?
Anything that can motivate your customers to trust your brand and remain loyal to your product or service is a good thing. A brand guide can show elements that build this trust, which is why creating one is an excellent idea for your business. But there are other reasons that it makes sense to create a brand guide that you might not initially consider.
- It encourages consistency. Not sure which shade of red you used in your logo? Check your brand guide. Wondering whether you should use a more informal tone on your social media platforms? All you have to do is check the brand guidelines.
A solid brand guide is something you should give to each new employee during onboarding. It will take time for them to get up to speed with company protocol and workflows, but this guide will help give them confidence, and be able to dive in more quickly.
While your brand’s style will certainly become second nature to long-term staff, you should still maintain a style guide as a reference. Your brand and style guidelines will keep uniform word choice, style, tone, and any other text or graphics parameters to keep your brand strategy consistent.
- It helps you focus on your target audience. When you think about why your company does what it does, you’re also reminded of your target customers. These are the people for whom your business exists.
Going back to your brand guide is like going back to where you started. It helps you understand the “why” behind it all when you’re not sure what to do next. While a brand guide is in place for practical reasons, it can also serve to motivate you and your staff to do your best work.
- It will make rebranding easier. When it’s time to grow your business, you’ll probably need to rebrand. A brand guide makes the process easier by reminding you of those design and brand strategy standards that you can scale up as needed.
A brand strategy is the best way to share your company’s mission and vision with its target audience, and your brand guide will ensure you stay consistent with that strategy internally and externally as you grow your business.