8 KEY AREAS TO DEFINE WHEN CREATING THE STYLE OF YOUR BRAND
One of the coolest things about starting a business is building a brand. It's creative, it's exciting, and it's what gives your business its unique presence in the market. Developing this personality and style is almost like you're creating a person! (with less science and anatomy)
Many times, the founder of a business will have an amazing idea and hit the ground running at full speed. However, there is an important step that should not be overlooked before launching the product or service - creating a style guide for your brand.
Why is having a style guide so important?
I'll let Kate of UX Magazine to answer this question...
To help out our fellow brand creators, we've put together a simple checklist with the basic necessary items you'll need to establish for your branding guide. You can download the checklist now by clicking right here -OR- keep reading for an overview of why each item is important to your brand style guide.
1. LOGO & WORDMARK
This is the core of your brand identity. Your logo and wordmark are the first thing people will remember about your brand.
Your logo is the primary symbol of your brand, and probably the most recognizable item of your branding [e.g. the McDonald's "M" (AKA The Golden Arches), the Apple symbol, the Disney "D" symbol, or my personal favorite, the RedFork fork symbol 😏].
A wordmark (AKA a logotype) is basically a logo without symbols or images, taking your brand’s name and presenting it in a specific fashion. Wordmarks are just as important as logos - think of Google, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Ray Ban, or Porsche.
I recommend taking your time during the development of your logo and wordmark, as these assets are not typically updated or change for long periods of time. The current version of the Coca-Cola wordmark was released in 1987, but the original version was used 100 years prior!
2. COLOR PALETTE
Think of your favorite sports team - what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe your favorite player in their uniform? Or cheering in the stands at the home stadium?
One of the first things that comes to my mind when thinking of my favorite team, Orlando City (Go Lions! 🦁), is the color purple. During the team's first season in the MLS, the team ran a #PaintTheCityPurple campaign where they literally painted the city purple! When walking the streets of Orlando, it'd be difficult for you not see a purple flag or magnet featuring the City logo on every corner.
Check out this example from Wolf Circus Jewelry
Choosing your brand’s colors and color combinations is incredibly important. Once your color palette has been selected, be sure to record at least RGB, HEX, and CMYK codes for each color, which will ensure that your brand is represented properly in any medium, either print or digital.
I don't claim to have the best memory, but one of the lessons that I always remember was from my high school English teacher. Ms. Smith repeated every single day, "Tone of voice is key. Always consider tone when you're reading and writing."
Now that the look of your brand has taken shape, it's time to make sure the brand personality is being communicated with the right tone . Select a typeface that represents your brand’s style.
Is your brand style - Serious? Fun? Modern? Vintage?
Looking for more information about the importance of typefaces? Check out one of our previous blog posts, What The Font?!, which covers all the fundamentals of choosing a proper font for your brand messaging.
4. PLACEMENT & USAGE
After all the hard work you've put into to creating your logo, choosing the perfect colors, and selecting the ideal typeface for your brand, the last thing you want to see is your business represented incorrectly.
Look at these logo placement examples from Skype's branding style guide.
Take some additional time to specify the proper sizing, colorization, and amount of space surrounding your logo, wordmark, and typefaces. This will ensure that any member of your team, or anyone outside of your business (e.g. magazine/newspaper publisher), will know exactly how to display your brand's style.
Now that the primary components of your brand have been created, additional elements can be developed to further define the brand's unique style.
Collecting various examples of photos, videos, graphics, or illustrations that represent your brand's style and personality provide great assistance to your team, your content creators, and external partners (e.g. contractors, remote employees).
At times, you're going to need more elements to visually represent your branding. Say for instance your website is being developed, and you want to see cool icons for the Blog and Contact sections that match your brand's logo.
Developing various additional elements, such as icons, textures, and shapes will support the visual representation of your brand. Check out this really cool and clean example from computer company, Alienware.
So far your brand's style guide has defined a lot about visual presentation, but what about communication? There's no point in creating really fun, bright, and vibrant logos and imagery only to go on and communicate in a boring, dark, and maybe even sad tone of voice in a blog or social media post...
Defining your brand’s tone of voice and style of communication will help internal team members and external resources produce content that speaks to your target audience the right way. Check out this example from Cisco, which merges their typography section with the communication style.
8. MARKET POSITION STATEMENT
The final element is also one of the most important components of any small business market strategy. Each brand is unique, and with this simple message, your brand will separate itself from the competition. For an example of this message, you can read RedFork's Market Position Statement below.
Once all of these boxes are checked, your brand has achieved a truly unique and refined styling. But don’t stop there… Continue to develop your brand by including taglines, slogans, mission statements, company values, and even hashtags!
If you'd like to download a PDF e-book with a simple checklist of these brand style components, click right here!
The more information you can include in your brand’s style guide, the easier it will be for you and your team to stay stylish. 😎
- What The Font?!, by Daniel Aharon of RedFork Marketing
- How to Create a Design Style Guide: 25 Pro Tips, by Creative Bloq
- 8 Essential Elements to a Comprehensive Brand Identity, by Visible Logic
- The Elements of a Style Guide, by Kate Kiefer Lee of UX Magazine