Creating Brand Guidelines
If you’re a brand just starting out, it might not seem like a brand guide is a big priority. However, creating this simple but effective guide will ultimately help you in the long run. Instead of having to nitpick ad designs from internal creators or freelance designers, you can offer this style guide upfront to prevent off-brand designs from ever hitting your email for approval.
Think of a brand style guide as an evergreen asset for your marketing strategy that helps create consistency across all channel content (even through internal communications!).
What should you include in your brand style guide?
Creating a brand style guide is different for every business. Some elements that are important for one brand might not matter for another, so developing your brand guidelines should be a unique process that communicates your brand story. Some companies have very specific expectations for logo use, tone of voice, or even design textures. Others might be more lenient when it comes to these branding pieces.
EmberTribe has two iterations of brand guidelines. One brand style guide focuses on the appearance of EmberTribe assets, such as our website. It’s an easy, at-a-glance guide for designers to reference when working with our brand.
Our other brand guide focuses on the editorial side of things. As a full-service growth marketing agency, we produce a lot of growth content intended for clients, colleagues, and curious business owners who want to up their advertising game. That sometimes means using freelancers for content development. To help our writers keep with the EmberTribe writing style, we produced a handy style guide for their reference.
✍️ Does your content development process have you stressed out? We found 4 useful tools for a streamlined process. →
We got our hands on a brilliant brand guide from sink brand Penny Lane Sink Co. and we’re going to go through the anatomy of effective brand guidelines.
The Anatomy of Good Brand Guidelines
A good brand guide explains your story and point of view. It is the definitive guide for how your brand explains its story to the outside world, after all. Penny Lane uses a “Who We Are” section to communicate their value proposition and brand beliefs.
This brand guide not only shares the primary logo, but also includes variations that will come in handy for their brand assets over time.
You might also consider including visuals for how to place your logo on marketing assets like Penny Lane does on their logo mark page.
Notice that the brand guidelines show both logo colors and website colors. This information is important for any graphics that designers create for the website, landing pages, and paid ads.
Selecting fonts for your brand is actually a huge time saver when it comes to creating brand assets. Do you know how many fonts there are? We don’t either, but it has to be a lot.
Avoid any potentially hard-to-read copy by including your font preferences. You might want to focus on just one, but some brands utilize multiple fonts or font formats based on how they will be used.
What does your brand evoke? What are you trying to communicate to audiences? Penny Lane uses words to convey their brand themes, but you might choose to include images that fit your brand, or a combination of words and images.
No matter how you slice it, including this information in a brand style guide sets the tone (literally!) for your marketing assets.
📸 Not all images are created equal. We set out to find what images work best for Facebook ads. →
Pretty colors. Clean fonts. High-resolution images. What good does that do you if your content doesn't match? Including writing style examples in your brand guide eliminates room for error when passing off a project to someone less familiar with your brand.
Dos and Don’ts
Some brand guides might include examples of images that are acceptable or unacceptable, or even improper uses of logo marks or fonts. This isn’t necessary but can be helpful to answer questions about what’s right or wrong upfront, especially when using outsourced help to build brand assets.
The main takeaway
Create a brand style guide! You won't regret it. If reading this post made you realize you haven't established clear branding for your business, use Copper Heart Creative's Heartfelt Brand Questionnaire to get down to the brass tacks of your brand foundation. Use code EMBERTRIBE15 for an exclusive discount.
Not only is it just a little bit of upfront work that will pay off in saved time down the line, but it’s also a great opportunity to align your brand message before investing in marketing assets.
If you're interested in learning more about brand-building, creative effective ads, and driving traffic to your site, let's talk!