Brand styles define the brand and say so much about the company in one glance than anything else. From Nike’s bold in-your-face messaging to Apple’s clean, minimalist style, these brand styles create enduring images that personify the brand.
Graphic designers, marketers, web developers, ad agencies, and other creatives use a variety of visual elements to bring out what’s unique about your brand and turn them into designs. Subsequently, these designs create the very identity of the brand.
However, to create a memorable and recognizable brand that consumers easily identify with, consistency is key. Therefore, the combinations of the visual elements have to be consistent across all platforms. Many companies release brand style guides to ensure content creators know how to do that. Hence, brand guidelines help execute the needed brand image for every company. Therefore, every company must strive to have brand guidelines.
What Is A Brand Style Guide?
A brand style guide is a collection of rules on everything that plays a role in the look and feel of your brand. It provides guidelines on how you present your brand to the world. Also, brand style guides help content creators capture the aesthetics of your brand and reproduce them cleanly without sacrificing authenticity.
So What Makes Up a Brand’s Identity?
A brand’s identity is simply the look and feel of the brand. It is the image the brand projects to the world with its products or activities. Like Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos says “Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
A strong brand identity is crucial to differentiate yourself from the competition and shape the impressions of your consumers. Therefore, a good brand style guide must capture the brand’s identity. After, amplify it to the customer through design to create that distinctive brand style.
So before writing the brand style guide template, you must reduce your brand’s identity to the bare bones with simple yet effective characteristics.
Mission and Vision
Writing down your brand’s mission is key to creating a good brand identity. Your brand’s mission expresses in detail what your company stands for and what it aims to achieve. Most of the time the leaders of the organization set the mission and vision of the organization.
It can be anything as grand as Facebook’s “Bringing the word together” to Starbuck’s more down to earth aim of “Inspiring and Nurturing the human spirit”. Above all, what’s important is that it captures the purpose of your brand and communicates it.
Your target audience or who you hope to sell to determines the identity of your brand to a large extent. Consumers range across a wide spectrum with several factors – such as age and socio-economic background- determining their purchasing choices.
Therefore, to then make sure you are appealing to the right people, market research has to be done to determine who exactly your customers are and why they need you. In addition to the insights gained from the research, you can now market your brand to the appropriate demographic.
Your brand’s personality is essentially a set of human characteristics that can be attributed to your brand. Generally, it’s what makes the brand human in the eyes of the consumers.
It can be represented anything from the tone of the brand’s voice, the imagery used, or even the marketing campaigns. Therefore, it’s important to create a clear and consistent personality that customers can easily identify with the brand.
A great step in creating an awesome brand personality is determining the adjectives that best represent the brand. Fun or serious? Laidback or professional? Classical or modern? Selecting the right attributes to give content creators the templates they need to ensure they make the right impressions for your brand every time.
The core values of your brand matter greatly to your identity. They are the beliefs that you as a brand believe in and stand for. Hence, they serve as a guidepost for the actions, behaviors, and the decision making processes of the brand.
It’s important to clearly define these core values because they influence how consumers and employees view the brand. This is crucial because shared values can lead to higher customer engagement and even higher productivity from the employees.
How To Create a Brand Style guide?
So now, you’ve outlined your brand goals and identity, what’s next now is to determine how to transform them into style guidelines for your brand. But how do we create this brand style guide template? Here are the steps.
Step 1: Create A Compelling Brand Story
Every memorable brand starts with a great brand story. Accordingly, Apple’s humble garage beginnings to world domination and Tesla’s rise from underdog to an industry leader are some great examples of compelling brand stories.
Furthermore, a brand story takes the inspiration and events behind your brand’s beginning, and how they still influence it today and turns it into a gripping narrative.
To summarise, a great brand story takes the company’s mission, vision, and core values and presents them to the world in a bold way. In addition, it says this is where we are coming from, this is where we are going and this is how we are going to get there.
Crafting a good brand story is very important because it sets the tone for how you are going to present yourself to the world. Subsequently, here are some quick tips on how to do that:
1. Highlight the Inspiration and Beginning
What made you go into business? What problems were you hoping to solve?, Which gap did you see in the market? In short, this section of your brand story deals with the vision and beginnings of your brand.
2. Share the Struggles Faced
No great story is complete without an underdog or a hero to root for. As a result, establishing a brand in a competitive industry often takes quite a bit of work and customers want to hear about how that went.
The adversities you faced in the establishment of your brand can be a key point for customer engagement. Therefore, highlighting the struggles you faced and how your values helped overcome them can win you the admiration of customers if done right.
3. Share Your Vision for The Future
This is the part for a bit of humble bragging. You had a vision, you’ve been through the wringer and now you’ve come out on top and now it’s time to build on that. Therefore, this part should read like a victory lap for your brand highlighting what you have done and what you are still going to do.
Finally, the most important part of writing a great brand story is authenticity. Hence, when you write a brand story, you humanize your company and this plays a key role in defining your brand’s personality. You have to be careful to present an honest and authentic image every time.
Step 2: Create And Explain Your Visuals
The visual elements of your brand often create the first impression with the consumer. Before the customer can even read your great ad copy or sample your product the first comes in contact with your visuals.
Also, great care has to be taken when drafting the rules for your visual, in this section, it’s highly recommended you hire a professional with whom you can communicate well. In addition, great communication is very important to ensure that your ideas are passed across clearly.
Let’s take a look at some of the elements that make up your brand’s visuals:
This is the very icon of your brand, this is the unique visual image people will associate with your brand as it belongs to only you. Hence, the logo is such an important part of the brand so its use must be very regulated.
An example of such guidelines to include on your logo usage would be color variations, Logo backgrounds, and placements.
Many companies such as NASA and Netflix have strict guidelines for both the colors and the placement of their logo. A rule of thumb is to make sure that the logo always stands out and is never overshadowed by other elements in the design. Above all, this ensures it retains the visual impact.
2: Color Palettes
The color schemes used by your brand plays a big role in brand recognition. In addition, the color palettes are the guides for the colors used in the visual content created by your company.
Most companies usually stick to a two-colour variation based on the colour of the logo but with more and more content being created for different media, many brands are starting to use multiple colours to enhance brand visibility.
No matter what color schemes you use, always specify their HEX codes and their RGB numbers in the brand book. Subsequently, these codes will help maintain consistency and ensure the desired look is attained every time
Fonts and their formatting are usually a very underrated part of the whole visual package. But when used right, these fonts can be a powerful tool for expressing the brand’s personality. So when selecting a font and formatting, it’s best to create and stick with a style that best complements the brand’s personality. Therefore, never forget to be very specific about your typography in your brand book.
Accordingly, typographic elements that you can include in your brand guide can range from just specifying a simple typeface for everything like Twitter and Google or going the whole nine yards and including guides for font size and style, headers, text colors etc.
Many different typographic schemes are usually used for various media, whether you’re creating for the web or physical publications, you want to make sure that the appropriate schemes are rightly specified.
Step 3: Explain Your Brand’s Voice
Now that we’ve gotten over the look and feel of the band, let’s explore the brand’s voice, more specifically what you say and how you want to say it.
The tone of your brand’s voice has to be an expression of the brand’s personality. Therefore, it should be perfectly tailored to the brand’s audience. This is necessary to keep your messaging consistent and on-brand every time. Together with various social platforms such as Instagram, you can push a good understanding of your brand.
Elements that can be included in the section about your brand voice include grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, some companies even include examples of accepted and restricted words.
Step 4: Plan for The Evolution of Your Brand
As the market place keeps changing and your business keeps growing, so will your brand. In today’s fast-paced world of marketing, to be static can often mean death.
Therefore, to keep up with the competition and avoid going obsolete, your brand style guide has to be a living, breathing entity. Hence, you always have to keep on growing it and adding new sections or changing it entirely depending on the new realities faced by the brand.
A static brand can provide the illusion of stability, but most of the time the consumers always feel comfortable knowing that their favorite brand is growing and evolving along with them. So you should always be on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration that can further enhance your brand. Therefore, your brand book should have room for scalability and expansion.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. The important thing to remember is to be you, your brand style guide template can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Therefore, just make sure it accurately represents your brand.
Brand Style Guide Examples for Visual Inspiration
Now that you want to start writing, here are some examples of brand style guides from notable companies to get you started.
1. Medium Brand Style Guide
Medium is an online publishing platform for both amateur and professional writers to post anything from fiction to opinion pieces.
As an example, Medium’s style guide emphasizes mainly on the usage of their logo. It provides several guides on the spacing, usage, and correct color schemes and backgrounds to correct its usage. Also, it devotes coloration to the appropriate fonts and typefaces (It is a site dedicated to writing after all). Finally, Medium has one of the top style guide examples and is also room for more style guide examples by different entities.
Subsequently, you can check out the full brand guidelines of Medium here.
2. Ollo Branding Guidelines
Ollo is a tech company that specializes in providing broadband services and solutions. It looks to revolutionize the saturated telecoms market by tailoring its brand to appeal to a young audience. To this end, it’s designs are very vibrant.
Hence, its style guide focus on bright colors and bold typefaces while sporting an interactive logo to encourage creativity among designers.
You can check out the brand guide of Ollo here.
3. Netflix Brand Guidelines
Netflix is a popular video streaming service with millions of viewers around the world. By the way, the brand especially its iconic logo are almost household items at this point, therefore, the brand style guide seeks to capitalize on that.
Also, the brand guide focuses almost exclusively on the popular Netflix logo and the symbol. It gives one specific color for the logo complemented with a set of guidelines on the placement, sizing, and spacing.
Also, you can check out the brand guide of Netflix here
4. LinkedIn Brand Style Guide
LinkedIn was originally a formal job site used by job seekers to connect with prospective employers. However, it has evolved to become a more wholesome community of professionals sharing ideas and connecting. It has recently overhauled its style to reflect that community feel.
Furthermore, in its recently overhauled brand style guide, it does a great job of capturing that community feels with its new signature fonts, warm color palettes, and a new soft monochrome logo. Also, the style guide goes further by specifying the type of voice to be used and the type of imagery to complement it.
You can check out the full brand guidelines of LinkedIn
5. Spotify Brand Guidelines
Spotify is a popular audio streaming platform boasting millions of users. The brand has a mostly online presence and its brand style guide is geared mostly towards the online aspect of things. In addition, it can be considered as the top of the style guide examples in terms of app usage.
Subsequently, the brand guidelines template contain style specifications for logo usage as spacing, album art for music, and finally the color palette for the brand.
You can check out the brand guide of Spotify here.
Now that you have the tools and knowledge on how to write an excellent style guide, you can buckle down and start creating it.
Writing a brand style guide is a team effort. Therefore, be sure to get everyone from the creative to the marketing to the sales department involved. Therefore, the different ideas gotten from each department can make a big difference. Also, it is good to store it in a convenient format in a place that is easily accessible to the content creators. Most brands store theirs on the internet.
So there you have it, good luck.