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- 6 Essential Elements of a Brand Design Guide - June 17, 2019
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There are six essential elements that need to go in to every brand style guide – brand story, logo, colour palette, typography, imagery and voice of authority. These should be the first things you prioritise with your designer. Some of this may already be created (like your logo), but for others you’ll want to go back to your inspiration boards. A designer will help you take those moods, feelings and images and turn them into tangible brand elements.
You may know what color your logo should be, but do you know how it’s going to look in different environments? This section of your brand style guide ensures your logo is used in the way you intended. It also prevents mistakes — such as stretching, altering, condensing or re-aligning — that could send the wrong message. Include all approved versions of your logo, describe when to use each one, and show visual examples to make it really clear. Size: List minimum size and proper proportions. Space: If your logo requires a certain amount of white space around it, give clear instructions. Colours: Show variations (reversed, in colour, black and white) and when to use them. Don’ts: It can be just as important to show how you don’t want your logo to be used. Need a reference point? Check out 99designs’ guidelines for using the logo.
Speaking of colours, defining a brand palette will go a long way towards creating a consistent look and feel. Most brands choose four or fewer main colors and don’t stray too far from the hues of their logo. It’s a good idea to pick one light colour for backgrounds, a darker colour for text, a neutral hue and also one that pops. In your style guide, show swatches of your brand colours. Make sure to include the information needed to reproduce those colours accurately, wherever your brand message goes.
Another big part of identity design is font selection. Your brand needs will dictate whether one typeface family will meet all your needs or if you want to define multiple brand fonts. A good rule of thumb is to use a different font to the one in your logo, as the contrast will help it stand out. A seasoned designer can guide you through this process. No matter how simple or complex your typography scheme is, make sure it’s used in all the right ways by explaining the choice and giving clear instructions for use.
·Introduce: Tell the story of the typefaces are you using, how they relate to your brand, and what each one is used for (headlines, body text, captions, etc).
·Alignment: Make it clear if you want copy to always align right, left, or centred.
·Spacing: Include tracking and kerning ratios to maintain a consistent style when font size changes.
When it’s your company, you have a natural instinct for which photos and illustrations are right for your brand. The imagery section in your style guide will steer everyone else in the right direction without adding more approval to-do’s for you.
You can approach this in a few different ways. You might even use some of the inspiration points you gathered to prep for your style guide.
·Best practice: Show examples of images that have performed well for your brand. Make sure you address the main ways that your company communicates, whether it’s a print catalogue or an Instagram account.
·Aspirational: If you don’t have all the examples you want for your brand, find what feels right from bigger brands. This will still give your team a sense of the style to align to, plus it never hurts to aim high!
·Mood board: Collect images that convey the feeling that you want people to get when they interact with your brand.
Voice Of Authority
Writing style doesn’t always jump to mind when thinking of brand identity, but brand voice strongly affects how your audience feels about you. Just like with imagery, you can approach this in a few different ways.
·Best practice: If you have messaging that works well for you, show those examples here.
·Build on personality: Remember that list of 3-5 adjectives that describe your brand personality? Use that to describe the type of language that is on-brand.
·Dos and don’ts: Sometimes, simple is best. Pick words you like and words you don’t to clearly demonstrate what your brand voice is.
The terms ‘brand’ and ‘logo’ are often used interchangeably; however, although a logo can be the symbol of a business, it is not the entirety of a brand. In fact, creating a logo is just one small step towards developing a strong brand identity.
With millions, if not billions, of businesses trying to make a name for themselves, having a strong brand has become crucial for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, your values, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with you. In essence, your brand identity is the personality of your business. There are five key elements to this — mission, vision, audience, personality and values.
If you’re working to develop your first brand identity for a client, or you’re doing this for your own business, it’s important to first understand what a brand is and what it takes to create one. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as giving the business a name and plastering it on everything.
When introducing your brand to the world, a simple summary will give people an insight into the heart and soul of your company, which will help them understand how to represent your brand. A brand story recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. If you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you and, ultimately, care about you.
Think of your brand story as a journey you are taking your audience through. The most relatable brand stories address the struggles, wins, beliefs and highlights that occur during the journey.
Offer value: when it comes to effectively communicating your brand story, quality is far more important than quantity. While consistently publishing content is a must, it’s far better to post a few meaningful, strategic pieces than pages of thoughtless content that people will scroll past. Brevity is often preferred, but long-form content can also be powerful so long as it offers value to your ideal audience.
For example, since my brand revolves around storytelling, my long-form posts receive far more engagement than my 180-character ones. My audiences look for substance and are willing to consume more content if I am delivering on expectations.
Include a call to action: You may have a tight framework and strategy, but it won’t stick without an element of human connection. At the end of the day, we share stories because it reminds us of our humanity – no amount of big data or marketing savvy can replace our fundamental human need to feel connected. Offering calls to action is a great way for brands to engineer moments of human connection. Calls to action don’t have to be sales pitches or requests for purchase – they could be, for example, natural and genuine invitations for the audience to share their stories, opinions, or connect with one another.
Brands can leverage content to identify a point of tension, resolve that tension, and then ask for engagement through a call to action.
The authenticity of the story is made or ruined by what is being asked of the audience at the end of the message: be tactful in creating a safe space for people to respond, directing them to a service or product, or offering actionable tips to solve a problem. Even more importantly, you should be just as genuine in responding to the people who engage as you were in asking them to do so.
To create an engaged and loyal community, you first need to give people a reason to believe in your brand. The most powerful brand stories tap into the humanity of any situation and speak to people in a way that strongly resonates with the ideal audience. Once you communicate a story that’s powerful and easy to understand, it’s only a matter of continuing to provide your audience with the high-quality content and value they deserve.
Today, we’ve built a passionate community of inbound marketers, expanded our inbound marketing approach to the sales and customer service industries, and strengthened the inbound movement more than ever before.
This is our brand story – a simple, digestible narrative that explains why HubSpot began, and how this reason still serves as our purpose today.
The five key brand components we discussed earlier — mission, vision, audience, personality and values — can all be included, or you may choose to only share some of that publicly. Gauge what to include by considering what would be most useful as a reference point. Everything else in your guidelines should hold true to these fundamental components