Create your brand bible
Start with your brand story—what it is you do, make or sell and why do you do it.
While limitations and constraints don’t immediately evoke an air of creativity, it remains important that your brand’s look and feel is consistent, for which a kick-ass style guide is required.
Keeping your brand coherent is key to being easily identifiable to your audience, as unpredictability may confuse your consumers. For example, if you knew someone who always switched their tone of voice or changed their look, you would probably have some questions as to who they really were—and if they were sincere. Brand consistency breeds trust.
So what is a style guide? It functions to define your brand aesthetic and ethos and thus, the heart and soul of your brand. It is a reference tool for all staff (and external partners) to know how to communicate your company’s message and therefore will ensure professionalism and personality.
Below are some of the integral elements to include in your style guide:
Start with your brand story—what it is you do, make or sell and why you do it. Try to sum up your brand ethos in three words and summarise your mission and values. This is important to introduce at the start for clarity and will help to frame all the content that follows.
It is important to cover what your logo is; what its importance may be; how to correctly use it (e.g. specifying the minimum size at which it can be printed)—and how not to use it (e.g. the logo shouldn’t be squashed, stretched or re-aligned).
It’s also important to go through how it’s going to look in different environments. For example, if your logo is multi-coloured, it should also be designed to work in a monochrome palette for applications requiring simpler reproduction.
Defining your palette will help to create a consistent look and feel. It’s essential to outline your brand’s primary and secondary colour palettes and include swatches for reference. CMYK (print), RGB (digital) and HEX codes (web) should be detailed so that anyone can reproduce your chosen colours accurately.
Each colour has a different emotional value and certain hues are known to boost recollection. Most brands limit their primary palette to two or three colours. Best practice is to pick one neutral or lighter colour for backgrounds, to offer contrast to darker-coloured text or images.
Your style of imagery can encompass many things, such as whether you use photos or illustrations; if imagery is always to be black and white; or if photos have a coloured overlay. The guide can dictate how images are laid out or what the content should entail. These are all key aspects to consider when defining what rules your imagery should follow. In your guide, make sure to show examples of images that are on-brand.
Here you should detail what your brand typeface strategy is; for example, if one font family is used for everything, or if you use a certain font for headings and different one for body copy. It’s also important to specify what weights are to be used and the minimum and maximum point sizes for optimum readability. Best practice would be to choose a combination that is timeless and accessible, which is why Helvetica and Arial remain so popular.
Tone of voice
This section should cover how you speak across all your platforms. Is your brand friendly and your tone of voice colloquial? Or do you err on the side of a more informative and serious tone? Defining your brand voice is key to ensuring that it’s identifiable and will affect how your audience relates to you.
It’s also a handy way of ensuring that it remains consistent no matter who is writing content and where it’s appearing, from social media to your website. Let this section encompass examples of sentences or paragraphs that embody your messaging and language. Perhaps include five key words that define your tone of voice, such as ‘professional’, ‘clear’, ‘helpful’, ‘warm’, ‘feminine’.
If you are looking for help with your style guide, contact us today. Our team is on hand to share expertise and advice on best practice.