Entrepreneurs: Building A Brand Style Guide

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Starting a new business? Your brand style guide will be the heart and soul of your brand and your business. Your mission, vision, and values are all a part of your style, which translates into your design. So how do you create one?

What will a brand designer need to know to create your brand identity? 

Before you seek out a professional, you should have a clear idea of the following:

Identify Your Audience

Look at your buyer personas. The professional graphic designer will need clear psycho-graphics. Psychographics are the habits and behaviours of a particular market segment, defined by:

  • Personality
  • Values
  • Opinions and attitudes
  • Interests

Tell a Brand story

“The best brands are built on great stories.” – Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group.

You have no way to distinguish your brand or business without a brand story. Only when you have a well-defined brand story can you start to build its credibility.

With your vision, experiences, challenges, and empathy towards your customersyou, as the business founder, should have a story. Structure it and make it a unique tale. Have a narrative that creates an authentic and long-lasting experience.

The brand story will help build a consistent visual identity, and will take your powerful content marketing to the next level.

Remember, most successful campaigns are built around storytelling.

Identify Your Brand Ethos

Brand Position: This is your elevator pitch. It describes how your brand is different from its competitors.

Brand Attributes: Brand competencies (what you do); standards (how you do it); and style (your brand’s unique personality).

Brand Promise: This is a short, inspiring promise that holds your company accountable to your future and long-term customers.

Brand Vision: A statement, with a long-term perspective, that addresses your brand’s aspirations and goals.

Core Values:  Some examples could be performance, passion, respect for people, teamwork, and leadership.

These 5 areas will help the brand designer convey your business’s vision.

It’s important to realize that a designer’s job is to convey and express your chosen vision and values, and make the visuals appealing to your selected audience. In short, it is not the branding designer’s job to create your business ethos or suggest your audience.

What are the main sections of a brand style guide?

A brand style guide’s structure differs based on the sector, products, services, and media that a brand plans to use. However, your style guide should cover the following chapters:

      1. Overview of the brand
      2. Logo and tagline
      3. Colour palette
      4. Typography
      5. Positioning, size, and clear space
      6. Imagery
      7. Layouts and grids
      8. Website and social media

Refresh vs. Rebrand

As you build your business, be prepared to revisit your style guide. Many brands experience changes over time. Consequently, these changes need to be reflected in the brand’s visual identity.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between these terms.

      • Rebranding means to change the image of your company from top to bottom.
      • Refreshing the brand means to update, to make visuals more relevant, or change colours.

Secondly, there are separate reasons for refreshing your brand or rebranding.

Why Refresh your brand?
      • Because it makes an older brand more appealing to a current audience/generation.
      • To address current market conditions.
      • To connect the brand with your new offerings/ brand promise.
Why Rebrand?
      • Because your current brand is no longer contemporary, or is not working for your audience.
      • Your target market has changed.
      • There have been fundamental changes in your business.
      • Your business is planning a merger or acquisition.
Always Consider the risks of Rebranding

Finally, a poor rebrand can alienate or confuse your customers.

There have been many unfortunate rebranding instances. Some of these just haven’t been perceived as well as the previous visual identity. Learn from other brands’ mistakes before making any decisions.

Last two takeaways:

      • Customers and other stakeholders can feel betrayed if your brand equity is not taken into consideration.
      • Employees may not resonate with the rebranding strategy.
      • Plan a rebrand/refresh public relations strategy. This will help with your customers’ confusion.

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