6 Elements to Include in Your Brand Style Guide | MP 41

6 Elements to Include in Your Brand Style Guide | MP 41

How can you ensure consistency in your branding even when you change designers? What systems can you put in place to ensure that whoever works on your brand maintains its authenticity? What process can you layout for your design team to give them the best idea of your brand?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about six elements to include in your brand style guide.

In This Podcast

Summary

  1. Your brand story
  2. Your logo
  3. Your color scheme
  4. Typography
  5. Your brand voice
  6. Image and data visualization

1. Your brand story

This is essentially ‘your why’, and it defines and describes the aspects that your company cares about most. It communicates a company’s values and guides decision-making.

A brand story encompasses the company’s mission and core values and encapsulates your personality, as the owner, and helps you connect to your target audience.

Consider Trello, Facebook, Atlassian, and Skype as examples.

2. Your logo

Besides your brand story which stands at the forefront, your logo is the next most important aspect of your brand, because it is what people come to recognize you through. Once you create a successful logo, it belongs only to you and signifies your company.

In order to make your logo instantly recognizable, it should be used constantly and wherever and whenever your company is present in the digital (and physical) world.

The brand style guide works alongside the logo because the style guide outlines the rules for how the logo is created, and even recreated by other designers, to make sure that the message behind you brand is not lost.

Consider Spotify, Medium, Facebook, and Snapchat as examples to see how to include a logo in your brand style guide.

3. Your color scheme

Keeping a core set of colors around your brand will help keep the brand recognizable and maintain consistency.

Clearly define your brand’s color palette in your brand style guide. This may include one or two primary colors and some secondary shades.

Include the necessary hex codes, RGB values, and CMYK color codes to ensure your colors are accurately represented across all media. In your brand style guide, you can also include do’s and don’ts – you can go as in-depth as you would like.

4. Typography

Typography is one of those things that goes unnoticed if it’s done well, but sticks out like a sore thumb if it’s not.

Your brand style guide can help ensure that you maintain consistency across all your branding, especially when it comes to typography. This section outlines what fonts are used and for what purposes, for example, the fonts used in print media or digital media.

This section outlines what types of font, a specific hierarchy of styles, sizes, colors, and so forth.

5. Your brand voice

As much as you are authentic when you use your own voice, your company’s voice needs to have authenticity as well. Spend some time finding the style that resonates best with your audience and aligns with the personality of your brand. Once you are sure you have got it, replicate it across all your media as laid out in your brand style guide.

Your brand voice can be a short and sweet explanation of your writing style. It can also include do’s and don’ts around grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, naming, and tone.

Designer tip: include a writing sample that best represents your company’s brand voice.

Examples of brands to consider are Shopify, Atlassian, and Skype.

6. Image and data visualization

Everything around the imagery you use contributes to your audiences’ perception of your brand. Therefore, be sure to create guidelines for the imagery that works with your brand (photos, illustration, charts, infographics) and you can specify where these images are to be used in your branding and marketing, as outlined in your brand style guide.

Consider Trello, Shopify, and Atlassian as examples of how to use images and data representation through brand style guides.

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[SAM]:
Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.

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[SAM]:
Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today might be a bit of deja vu for some of you if you’ve been listening to my podcast episodes from the beginning. But I want to focus on how to create a brand style guide. So I know, I think in the beginning of my podcast, in initial episodes, I kind of punted brand style guides a lot and then it kind of faded away. But I’ve always held true to the importance of a brand style guide. And I know that it’s something that is often overlooked when you’re running a business and you have a million other things on your mind. But from a branding perspective, it really is important and in the show notes of this episode, I’m actually including an infographic that I found that includes a summary of the brand style guide and how to go about creating one, what you should include. It’s a really comprehensive infographic, so be sure to check that out, and just download it, either print it out or just have it available on your computer to kind of refer to or even send it along to your designer and get them to create a brand style guide for you. Again, when it comes to branding, consistency is everything. And a brand style guide is fundamental in maintaining consistency, no matter who works on your brand.

So for those of you who up to this point don’t know what I’m talking about, the brand style guide is a rule book containing specifications on everything that plays a role and then look and feel of your brand. So everything from typography and color to logos and imagery. It lets everyone know exactly how to present your brand to the world. And it guides the design for all your content from blog posts and presentations to office spaces and business cards. But more than just your visual identity, your brand style guide also taps into the theory behind your business. So why you started your business, who your target audience is, what is your mission, what is your vision? Things like that. So kind of everything from a theoretical and functional standpoint is included in your brand style guide. So I just wanted to talk through a few things to consider including in your brand style guide if this is something that you are interested in, and are wanting to put together at some stage. Or if you have one, maybe these are some things that you can include.

So the first thing to consider including in your brand style guide is your brand’s story, which is essentially your Why. Why did you start a counseling practice? Or why did you start a podcast? Or why did you start whatever your business is? A brand story defines and describes the things that a company cares about most. It’s used to communicate a company’s values and can also help guide decision making. So brand stories essentially wrap up a company’s vision, mission and core values. And it also encapsulates your personality and who your target audience is. So throughout this episode, I’m going to be mentioning some companies’ brand style guides that you’re welcome to Google and look at as inspiration, and to kind of see how they’ve put it together. So when it comes to the brand story element of a brand style guide, some great examples of some companies that you can look at are Atlassian, Trello, Skype and Facebook. So Atlassian – not sure if I’m saying that correctly – they actually just recently took over from Trello, and then Skype and Facebook, they’ve got some really great brand stories in their brand style guide if you want to check that out.

The second element to include in your brand style guide is, of course, your logo. So when I talk about setting up a company’s brand, the process I kind of go through – and I actually did a podcast episode about this that’s literally like Steps to Branding, or Step by Step Guide to Branding, something like that, feel free to check it out if you are interested – but first and foremost, you would start with your logo. That’s kind of the core of your branding, and then you would move on to your brand style guide. Obviously, you would then include your logo in your brand style guide. So brand story aside, obviously, why you started your business, your logo is the most important part of your brand. It’s the one thing that everyone should immediately recognize as belonging to you, and only you. But again – and I also mention this a lot – to make a logo instantly recognizable, it has to be used consistently. So 101 in branding is to be consistent. For example, have you ever seen the Facebook logo in any color other than the traditional Facebook blue? I didn’t think so. And that’s not by accident. So a brand style guide outlines rules for exactly how to use logos, to make sure that nobody sends the wrong message with their brand. Imagine you had to come across the Facebook logo in bright pink. You would be, like, what is going on? So Facebook has a brand style guide to ensure that that never happens. So even if they’re changing designers, each designer knows that without fail, they need to maintain that consistency of using that blue color.

So when it comes to your logo and your brand style guide, you can include a bunch of specifications, such as how much space to leave around your logo, or what kind of colors are acceptable for your logo to appear in. So there can be a variation. Obviously, Facebook chooses not to have a variation. But if that’s part of your brand, then obviously you can include that. Things like minimum logo size, and also examples of what not to do. So do not rearrange the elements in the logo or do not add stylized effects, things like that. So you can kind of decide how in depth you want to go. And obviously initially, you don’t necessarily need to go too in depth. But maybe the longer that your brand’s around and the more kind of marketing materials you begin to develop, you’ll realize that you actually need to include a lot more rules. And so that can kind of just be developed as you go along. But again, some examples to look at to get an idea of what to include when it comes to your logo in your brand style guide, have a look at Spotify, [unclear], Facebook, and Snapchat’s brand style guides.

The third thing to include is, of course, your color scheme. So to keep brand recognition intact, it’s more important than ever to make core brand colors well known and consistent. In your brand style guide, clearly define your brand’s color palette. This usually includes one or two primary colors, and then some secondary shades. Don’t forget to include the necessary hex codes, RGB values, and CMYK color codes to ensure your colors are presented consistently across media. So to go more in depth into color theory, and all the different parts about it, be sure to listen to my color theory episode; there’s a whole episode all about colors and color schemes and how to decide on colors and things like that. So definitely check that out. This section in your brand style guide can also include some do’s and don’ts. So for example, if your logo does consist of green, you could include examples of where that green logo can appear. So it can appear on a white background, it can appear on a black background, it can appear on a gray background, but maybe it shouldn’t appear on a blue background, for example. So again, you can kind of go as in depth as you’d like with that. And then in instances where there is a blue background, rather make use of the white variation of the logo, for example.

So another section to include in your brand style guide is typography. So this is one of those things that goes unnoticed if it’s done well, but sticks out like a sore thumb if it’s not. To enhance your brand experience, use a brand style guide to ensure that you’re applying typography consistently across your collateral. So again, you don’t want to start out having one designer use one kind of font across all your marketing material, and then a few years later, suddenly there’s a new font on all your marketing material. And eventually, you’re sitting with ten different flyers that have ten different types of fonts on them. You really want to maintain consistency from the beginning and including a typography section in your brand style guide is a way to do that. So this means outlining what fonts are used for what purposes, both in print and on the web.

So again, you can decide how in depth you want to go with this. This can either include one font – so if you’re happy with literally just using one font across everything – and or a specific hierarchy of styles, sizes and colors. So for example, you could say that when this font is used in a heading, it needs to be capitalized, it needs to be in bold, and it needs to be at this size, with this amount of tracking, etc. Or you could obviously say you want to use this font for headings, and you want to use this one for body text. But again, this is important in maintaining consistency across your marketing materials. I’ve also done an episode on typography so if you want to go more in depth into everything that topic contains, then be sure to check that out.

You also want to include your brand voice in your brand style guide. So this is another thing that should not be underestimated, in having a consistent brand voice across all of your messages. Spend some time finding the style that resonates with your audience and aligns with the personality of your brand. Once you’ve figured it out, ensure that it’s replicated across your channels by spelling it out in your brand style guide. So I know that for a lot of you guys, your brand is centered around you. So you have a private practice, you are the counselor of the private practice, you will be the one directly interacting with your clients. So when it comes to your brand voice, it’s not a bad idea to consider using your own voice, the way that you speak, the way that you communicate. In that sense, you’ll be being as authentic as you possibly can be. But you kind of always want to keep expansion in mind. Who knows one day, whether you’ll expand into a group practice, or yeah, who knows where your business is going to go. So you want to make sure that even if you’re using your own voice now, and you kind of think, well, it’s not necessary to kind of write that out because it’s my own voice, so obviously it’s going to be consistent because I’m handling all the marketing material at the moment. But in a few years, when somebody else takes that over from you, you want to make sure that that voice is maintained. So you really want to properly communicate that in your brand style guide so that whoever you handed over to in the future maintains that brand voice. This can be a short and sweet explanation on your writing style, or can include do’s and don’ts around grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, naming and tone.

So again, you can go as in depth as you’d like. But a good idea is often to include a writing sample that best represents your company’s brand voice. So something that you’ve already written in one of your marketing materials, literally just grab that, paste that in your brand style guide, and say, this is the voice that I want to maintain. So some examples to look at to get a good idea of brand voice and how to go about describing it is Shopify, Atlassian and Skype’s brand style guides.

The last thing to think about including in your brand style guide is image and data visualization. So again, you might think this isn’t so necessary if you are at the starting point of your business. But again, you never know what kind of imagery and data visualization you’re going to make use of in the future. So everything about your imagery, including style, color, and content contributes to the perception of your brand. As such, be sure to create some guidelines for imagery like photos, illustrations, charts, infographics, etc to include in your brand style guide. This is especially important when making use of illustrations to ensure that these remain consistent no matter who is creating them. So if you are making use of illustrated people, for example, you want to make sure that should you have to change designers for whatever reason, your illustrated people don’t all of a sudden become something else entirely, that they stay the same even if you’re changing designers.

So some examples to look at for this section in particular are Trello, Shopify and Atlassian’s brand style guides. So you’ll notice with all the examples, I’ve kind of maintained the same group of companies. So just go and download all of their brand style guides and take a look. They’re definitely good ones to look at. They’ve been laid out really well, and thought out really well, and they’ll act as a good example for you to kind of base yours on.

So as much as it’s important to kind of spell out how you want your illustrations to look, it’s also important for photographs. So obviously most of you will be including photographs on your websites; what kind of style are those photographs? And provide examples of those. So again, just grab some of the photographs that are already on your website, place them in your brand style guide and say that this is generally the look and feel you’re going for when it comes to photographs. And then also include stylistic guidelines for things like infographics and data visualizations. Specify when and where to use infographics and data visualizations. So whether it’s in presentations or reports, even some areas on your website, you want to kind of be specific about that.

So that’s what to consider if and when you’re looking at creating a brand style guide. Again, this is something I’m more than happy to help with. So if you need help, just let me know. But definitely review the show notes of this episode and take a look at that infographic. And I hope it’s been helpful, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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[SAM]:
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print flyer designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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