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Create a Brand Style Guide With This Branding Checklist

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Colorful banner with font and color guidelines graphic representations.

You know how important it is for potential and existing customers to feel good about your brand. Their impression of your brand creates expectations around the quality and value of your offering, and what it will feel like to use your product or service. Create positive expectations and your customers buy from your brand before they think of others in your market — that’s branding 101.

To create that kind of impression, every business needs to tell a memorable story about who they are, what they stand for, and why that’s valuable. Once you’ve got this story down, you’ve got to tell it consistently across all touchpoints to foster a clear, reliable, and strong recall of your brand story and its value.

That’s where your brand style guide comes in. It bundles up all the information and resources your internal and external teams need to represent your brand. With clear instructions on how to use all your brand assets, you can create and maintain brand consistency.

Why you need a brand style guide

If you’re a brand manager, you know that a brand style guide documents how to present your brand in written, visual, and audio communication. It guides consistency across marketing, sales, product, and customer service communications by providing all the specifications your teams need to create a cohesive brand experience.

Your brand style guide helps answer questions like:

  • What is our brand promise?
  • What are the HEX values of our brand’s colors?
  • Should our writing be formal or informal?
  • Which logo should I use?

Answer these frequently asked questions and equip your teams to successfully present your brand.

What to include in a brand style guide

A brand style guide should include all the information your teams need to successfully build and maintain brand consistency. That’s anything pertinent to brand design, style, essence elements, and how to use your brand assets. Since there are so many elements that impact the perception of your brand, from image quality to tone of voice, we recommend starting small and growing from there. If you receive multiple questions about a branding element, add the answer to your style guide.

One way to ensure you include all necessary brand elements in your customer experiences is to have a branding checklist in your style guide.

Branding checklist

You need a reliable internal approval process to guard against brand-damaging content blunders. Healthy approval processes need standards for teams to quickly agree on. Add this checklist to your brand style guide to give everyone a way to check for brand consistency. Or, if you don’t have a style guide yet, use this checklist to start one. Remember to keep these crucial guidelines top-of-mind by making them easily accessible to all team members.

Branding design elements

Your brand has to use approved colors, logos, and fonts consistently and correctly to present a unified brand experience. These hard-working visuals personify who you are as a brand — the personality of your people, products, and culture — so take care to get them right.

Colors are:

  • From an approved palette
  • Used tastefully, and do not overwhelm, distract, or detract from the impact of communications
  • Optimized for medium (typically use RGB for digital and PMS for print)

Logos are:

  • True to original form (color, scale, and orientation)
  • Visible and legible against backgrounds
  • Correct size for space, with adequate clearance around logo and tagline
  • placed in the right location for the type of content (e.g., bottom left corner for slide presentations)
  • Optimized for medium (typically use RGB for digital and PMS for print)
  • Compliant with registered trademark guidelines
  • Optimal file format for medium (typically reserve EPS for master files and graphic or print designs, and JPG or PNG for when load time matters)

Fonts are:

  • True to original form, without added type effects (drop shadow, outline, texture)
  • Used correctly, at approved point sizes, across headlines, subheads, secondary heads, and body copy
  • Optimized for medium (web vs. print)

Branding style elements

Your communication style — whether visual, written, or verbal — is the lifeblood of your brand. Your music and voice-over choices for branded videos, the photography you select, and even the ebb and flow of your words, tells your audience who you are as a brand. Take your time to enunciate this clearly and thoughtfully.

Visuals are:

  • Tasteful, and do not overwhelm, distract, obstruct other components, or detract from the impact of communications
  • Approved for use from an in-house image collection or digital asset management (DAM) platform
  • Only used from outside sources if legally licensed and approved for purchase

Written or audio components are:

  • In active, not passive voice
  • Actionable and include practical advice
  • Concise, using the least amount of words required to convey meaning
  • Simple and direct, but still use interesting and powerful words
  • Void of jargon and buzzwords
  • In your brand’s voice and intended tone
  • Customer-centric, not self-serving
  • Free from typos, grammatical errors, and inaccurate information
  • Addressing the needs of your target audience
  • Using approved boilerplate copy, if applicable
  • Scannable, using quotes, graphics, and bullets to break up text blocks

Brand essence elements

At the heart of your brand is the mission, vision, and promise that you make to your customers. These brand essence elements define the purpose of your company, and they help align your internal teams to who you are and how to talk about your brand.

As a whole, content should align with these elements of your brand:

  • Mission: clarifies who you are and what you’re all about. Your content should support the core purpose of your company.
  • Vision:  identifies what your company is going to accomplish. Your content should use language that is consistent with your aspirations.
  • Values: guide and direct your culture and how to approach your work. Embrace these foundational motivators and treasured principles.
  • Promise: the value your customers expect from you every time. Always live up to your customer pledge.
  • Traits: keep you unique, different from competitors, and personality-packed.

Here are some brand guidelines you can use to round out your checklist and style guide.

Ready for the next level?

With a style guide and checklist in hand, you’ve started to practice the discipline of brand management. Brand management takes constant work, especially when multiple people and teams collaborate to create, manage, and distribute your content. This do-it-yourself checklist is a great place to start. And with the power of a DAM solution, you can dynamically enhance the way your entire organization protects, manages, and improves your brand every step of the way. 

Companies like Hootsuite use Widen Collective® to power their brand management. Hootsuite software is used by more than 18 million customers and employees at over 80% of the Fortune 1000. They use our brand management solution to create a single source of truth for their brand assets. That empowers their international organization to create a cohesive and consistent brand experience.

For more information on our brand management solution, the Widen Collective, request a demo today!

Topics: Brand management

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