One of the fundamentals for all types of marketing is a brand style guide for your company. Having this information in one place for reference will make all your branding item creation easier! Your branding guide contains things such as all variations of your logo, the fonts you use on all your branding pieces from website to social media posts to print advertising, the colors of your brand, and makes it easy for someone to step in and help with content creation. Organizing this information and having the formatting handy will help cut down the time it takes for your marketing person or graphic designer to put together your advertising pieces. I highly encourage you to take the time and create this guide to save yourself both time and money in the future.
WHAT THINGS SHOULD BE IN A BRANDING STYLE GUIDE?
To start, you need to put your logo variations into one document. Do you have a larger logo that you use on your letterhead and website? Is there a smaller one that is used on other items? All the designs should be listed and have a clear description of where each logo is to be used. Remember to list things such as your letterhead, website, social media, print marketing, educational pieces, brochures, etc. Any content that your company creates needs to be listed.
Font is a HUGE one that people tend to forget. The fonts used on all your marketing pieces should be consistent with one another. If you are using one font as a header on the website, it needs to be included as the main header font. Same goes for sub headers, paragraphs, letterhead, etc. The fonts should be listed along with font size for reference. You can even go one step further and download the fonts and save them into your marketing folder along with your logos and branding guide. This way, if you hire someone to help with a design piece or have your marketing team work on something new, they have access to everything they need.
Another thing that is crucial to be in your branding guide are the color choices for your company. This information needs to include the various color codes (RGB, Hex, CMYK, and the name of the color). It is easy to replicate colors if you have the codes associated and it’s a way to guarantee that your branding colors are consistent. Be sure to also note where each color is used and how they work together. If you make all your headings in one type of social media posts a certain color, you need to put that into your guide under social media posts. Same goes for your website and the color integration. If you used a graphic designer, they should have sent you a document with all colors and fonts used for your brand. If they didn’t, reach out and see if this is something they will send over. If you have done all your color choices in house, take the few minutes to update this information in the guide to save time and money later.
Once you have the basics in your design file and style guide, now is the time to get creative. Take a snapshot of your letterhead and how it is designed so that all future pieces can be based upon what you already have in place. Same goes for your business card and any other print marketing pieces you have previously designed. Be sure that all fonts and logos are consistent with the information in the style guide and save copies of all pieces for reference.
Do you advertise in Serenity, the local paper, at high school sporting events, or sponsoring your local non-profit events? Be sure to include copies of the previous advertisements and that they follow your guide. Make updates as necessary and utilize these changes in your next print. Having this template available helps to make the design process faster. If you have the original files used to create the piece, be sure to have that as well! This could help you save an immense amount of time so that you only must update a graphic or some word choices to create a new ad.
This same rule for print marketing applies to your social media content. To promote brand awareness, your graphics should have the same overall feel. If you are posting diverse types of content, be sure to save each of the designs to replication is simple. Your followers on social media should be able to recognize it is a post from you just by the color choices, font, and style without even seeing your logo. This is a part of brand awareness that can be overlooked when creating content. Consistency is key here. Once you find a design you are happy with, be sure to keep that style in future pieces.
Another thing you should list in your guide is your favorite site to get stock photos for marketing. Using free tools such as Pixabay and others are crucial! Use images that have a free license for use. If you find the perfect image for your company on another site, be sure that you pay for the image and save a copy of the license in your marketing file. Many people are cracking down on the unauthorized use of their images and a DMCA take-down notice is a quick way to take several hours out of your day and possible several hundred dollars out of your bank account. Use only images that have been created for you and be sure that your graphic designer is using images that are licensed for your use. You are responsible for any content that is created on your behalf so be sure you ask the question. A simple mistake could be very costly for you down the road.
For a sample of a branding guide, please visit our reference materials. This template is something that you can use to build your own. If you have any questions or would like assistance, SMM is here to help! You can schedule a free consultation here.
Now get out there and be social (with consistent branding, of course!)