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When you look up the world’s most valuable brands, you’ll find that their logos are immediately recognizable and familiar. This is no coincidence. Whether it’s Apple, Google, Amazon, Disney, or Starbucks – their brand’s style has been carefully developed and consistently applied across all products, media, platforms, and campaigns. And the majority of their consumers are loyal. Have you seen the drive-thru lines at a Starbucks lately? Or the frenzy outside Apple stores when a new iPhone drops? We’re pretty sure most of us would be happy with a percentage of that success and loyalty. But it takes work.
For any business, whether you’re a mega global dominator like Amazon or a mom-and-pop on America’s Main Street, you need a brand identity. If you don’t have one yet, or it’s only slightly developed – what are you waiting for?
Consistent branding is a key component in an organization’s measurable success. We’ll tell you why, and we’ll tell you what you need in your brand style guide. And if you still have questions at the end? Well, that’s what we’re here for. First, let’s get into some key reasons why branding is important.
Think of your brand style guide like one voice that stands out in a crowd – not a cacophony of variant notes. Because you want everyone in your organization to follow the same music…over and over again until it becomes like the latest earworm that you hear and immediately know the title, artist, album, and lyrics word-for-word. Here’s why:
Consumers like consistency. They respond to it with their wallets and their patronage. Consistent branding, which drives brand recognition, has been shown to increase revenue by as much as 23%.
Just listen to what our Content Stylist, Kristen, has to say about it:
“Brand consistency helps build brand recognition across all marketing and advertising platforms, making it easy for your current and potential customers to identify that your messaging is coming from your brand. [It] makes the difference in a professional look and feel for your website and materials.”
Here’s some more insight into brand consistency from our President, Chris Foss:
“As your brand is leveraged in more print and online materials, consistency and accuracy are vitally important – for both your internal and external users. Your staff…are your first brand ambassadors. If you don’t specify how to represent your brand then they can quickly go off-script and multiple versions of your brand and messaging can quickly circulate.
It’s kind of like the telephone game. Imagine playing the telephone game with 10 people, and read them your mission statement. See how it comes out?”
Establishing a brand style guide not only defines you and sets you apart, it also helps you get things done faster. When your workforce, especially your marketing team, knows exactly what you stand for and how you want to present yourself to the world, then every project and objective can get started on the right foot – without wasting time on redrafts and edits and corrections because something was off visually or in the messaging.
One study showed that loyal customers spend 67% more than newbies. Once you create your branding and begin building brand recognition, people that share your values or buy into your message will develop a connection with your company.
By establishing a brand style guide that implements the same look, feel, and tone across all your marketing and production efforts, you will increase the quality, integrity, and reliability of your organization. People will be more likely to trust you and stick with you for multiple interactions.
A brand style guide includes your brand identity, assets, and how to use them or apply them across your products, sales, and marketing efforts. Your brand identity typically includes your mission, values, personality, tone, and even your story – which will talk a bit about later. Your brand assets are things like your logo, iterations of your logo, your color palette, typeface, etc.
Here’s a little insight from one of our front-end developers, David Shayne:
“[It] is always important to lay out strict guides on how certain colors should be used, how the logo should be used, and all the different formats you want to stick to. Having strict control over this is important to establish consistent messaging. If you were to design your logo one way, and then use completely different colors for it in another place, that ultimately hurts your brand and can cause confusion or district with customers.”
So, here are the main elements that should go into your branding style guide:
Including your logo design goes beyond just how it looks. You need to dictate sizes in different formats or in relation to other branding assets like taglines or display ads. Outline which colors to use and how they should appear on different backgrounds or in print vs. digital production.
You might also think about including instructions for how your log should not look across different media.
Lay out the colors that make up your brand. You probably don’t want too many colors, but this branding palette should include RGB and CMYK color codes so that it remains consistent between web and print formats.
Establish what typefaces, font sizes, and spacing you want for your brand. Include a hierarchy of font usage too. You should also clarify which fonts to use for titles versus body copy, plus formatting preferences.
Beyond your logo itself, you might have guidelines or what types of other images you should or should not include in marketing materials or on your website and social media platforms. You might only want to use live photo images versus illustrations. You might desire outdoor images, but only of certain topography. You might want images of people, but only in certain settings. These are all important things to think about before you start advertising your message.
Setting your tone is crucial to creating consistent branding. What is your company’s personality? How do you want to come across to everyone every time? The words you use and how your message is conveyed should always keep time with how you want the public to perceive you.
Developing a creative narrative on your company’s inception, its mission, its goals, its progress, and its future can give your team a 3D understanding of your branding, and then help them communicate that throughout your messaging and marketing efforts. This story should also be something that would appeal to your core customers.
Creating a fully-developed brand style guide will not only support your success and help increase clients and sales, it will also make the lives of everyone who works for you so much easier. They’ll have a clear blueprint from which to build – or you can think of it like giving them a paint-by-numbers book. You should get the same result every time.
If you still have questions about branding and style guides or would like some expert help in creating one, reach out to our team at Ironistic. Our people have lots of experience in digital strategy and integrated marketing solutions. We would love to work with you and help you spread your message where it matters most. Let’s make an impact!
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