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Crafting Brand Guidelines for Your Small Business

When venturing into the complex task of building a sustainable business, branding might initially seem like a lesser concern. However, the significance of a robust brand identity in cultivating trust and ultimately bolstering your business in the long run is often underestimated.

Outlined below is a concise explanation of what a brand guideline encompasses, its purpose, the reasons for creating one, and the steps to undertake in the process.

So, what exactly is a brand guideline?

A brand guideline goes by various names—style guide, brand standards, brand book, brand guide, and more. Essentially, it functions as a document that serves as a tool for defining your brand’s identity. It offers guidance to employees, designers, content creators, and marketers in conveying a unified message. This includes aspects like fonts, logos (comprising color schemes and size), color palette, tone of voice, and stylistic directives.

Why is having a brand guide important?

A brand guideline not only provides content creators and marketers with a framework; it also imparts structure to the brand’s identity. This distinct identity sets it apart from competitors, ensuring uniformity and coherence.

As noted by Forbes, cohesion is crucial, as it establishes a resounding brand voice that resonates with the audience. This, in turn, is a pivotal aspect of building brand awareness. Over time, consistent messaging and awareness contribute to the development of trust.

The cultivation of trust is furthered by how brand standards uphold an image of professionalism. This extends beyond using a specific tone of voice. The uniformity in color schemes and logo usage across all platforms exudes professionalism, which directly influences trust.

How to Develop a Brand Guideline

1. Define your brand mission and values

Avoid vague statements and focus on articulating your company’s purpose, brand’s raison d’être, and the impact it aims to make.

2. Craft a clear mission statement with emphasis on

  • Your company’s purpose
  • Your brand’s reason for existence
  • The difference it seeks to make in the world

Your mission statement not only sets you apart, but also aids in employee alignment, as highlighted by Goalcast. Your vision statement should guide your company towards its aspirations, serving as a benchmark for decision-making.

3. Cultivate a distinctive brand personality

Establishing a clear brand personality is essential for consistent communication and customer connection. Imagine your brand as a person and define its traits. For example, Apple embodies simplicity and innovation, while Coca-Cola conveys sincerity and excitement.

4. Identify and understand your target audience

Avoid broad demographics and instead, focus on specific segments like single moms working from home, digital marketing professionals in startups, or fresh IT graduates. Knowing your audience helps tailor your messages for maximum clarity and impact.

5. Analyze your competition

Identify direct competitors who offer similar products or services. Utilize market research, customer feedback, and online conversations to gain insights. Distinguishing yourself from competitors is key to winning your target audience.

6 Key Elements for Your Brand Guide

  1. Brand story: Offer a concise summary of your brand’s essence and its purpose in the world.
  1. Logo: Ensure comprehensive coverage, including approved versions, color usage, orientation, size, and proportions.
  1. Color palette: Stick to a limited selection of main colors for brand consistency. Provide specifications for reproduction in various contexts.
  1. Typography: Specify fonts for headers and body text, along with details like kerning, leading, color usage, and weight.
  1. Imagery: Collect examples from larger brands to guide your own imagery choices, reflecting your brand’s identity.
  1. Voice: Define the tone of communication, considering factors like formality, assertiveness, and style. Maintain consistency across all channels.

Key Takeaways

Setting up a brand guideline might seem counterintuitive amid the myriad tasks of managing a business. However, when done correctly, it serves as a guiding framework for crucial future decisions.

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