A well-formed Brand Guide can act as a playbook for business decisions and marketing strategies. It’s a point of reference as to why the brand was started in the first place and a compass for maintaining your intended path. Keep in mind, when we say brand we’re talking about much more than the design components. More than just the looks. The brand guide should, as accurately as possible, describe the entire character of the brand – the promise, purpose, the walk, the talk as well as the look.
Putting together a full-fledged Brand Book can take some time but it can pay off tenfold across the life of your business. Consider the following key components of a brand guide when you get started.
Give a quick synopsis of the brand. This is your prologue to the rest of the document. The “why” this document (your company) even exists. This part provides context for the reader and helps rally the team working on behald of the brand.
Brand Platform/The Core
This is where you begin to flesh out the character of your brand. Just like talking about a close friend, you should be able to describe what your company’s goals are, what it stands for and the company’s personality. Are you a little goofy or very much buttoned up? The value of this section is in details such as below.
Proper definitions courtesy of Brand Channel.
- Brand Purpose/Mission: How the brand will act on its insight.
- Brand Values: The code by which the brand lives. The brand values act as a benchmark to measure behaviors and performance.
- Brand Essence: The brand’s promise expressed in the simplest, most single-minded terms. For example, Volvo = safety. The most powerful brand essences are rooted in a fundamental customer need.
- Brand Personality: The attribution of human personality traits (seriousness, warmth, imagination, etc.) to a brand as a way to achieve differentiation. Usually done through long-term above-the-line advertising and appropriate packaging and graphics. These traits inform brand behavior through both prepared communication/packaging, etc., and through the people who represent the brand – its employees.
Who are you working to create a dialogue with and how…
Market – What is the ideal demographic? Who is our brand for?
Voice – how do we speak to the market? At Shout Out we worked through an exercise to identify an actual person representative of our company voice.
Now it’s time to get into design guidelines. This part is incredibly important for maintaining a cohesive visual brand. Hand this section to partners, new hires, anyone impacting or using any part of your visual brand. It should contain:
- Primary Logo and Proper Usage
- Secondary Logo and Proper Usage
- Logo No No’s
- Color Palette
- Photography Style
In the end, developing a proper brand guide can be an exercise in brand self-awareness as much putting together guidelines for others. Often times it helps to seek out the perspective of trusted contacts not directly involved with your company. Ask them to answer a short questionnaire based on what they do know about your brand.