Create a Brand Style Guide with This Ultimate Branding Checklist

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Brand management checklist

As a marketer, you know first hand how important it is for your potential and existing customers to feel good about your brand. It creates expectations around the quality and value of your offering, and what it will feel like to use your product or service. Those expectations impact what your market buys.

Every business should tell a memorable story about who they are, what they stand for, and why that’s important. Brand consistency across all touchpoints fosters a clear, reliable, and strong recall of this story and its value.

Brand consistency also sets and reinforces buyer expectations; and is achieved through clear instructions on how it should be used. A brand style guide bundles up all the information and resources your internal and external teams need represent your brand.

Why you need a brand style guide

A brand style guide documents how to present your brand in written, visual, and audio communication. It helps ensure consistency across marketing, sales, product, and customer service communications by providing all the specifications your teams need to present your brand.

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?

Answers to these frequently asked questions will 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 uphold your brand consistently. Anything pertinent to brand design, style, and essence elements. Since there are 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 is by following a branding checklist.

Branding checklist

While an internal approval and cross-checking process is critical, having a comprehensive checklist, like the one below, can also help you guard against embarrassing and brand-damaging content blunders. Remember to keep your checklist top-of-mind by posting a copy at your workstation and incorporating it in your brand style guide.

Branding design elements

Using your brand’s approved colors, logos, and fonts consistently and correctly is critical to presenting a unified front. These are the hard-working visuals that 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, the photography you select, and even the ebb and flow of your words, tells your audience at every twist and turn 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 that defines the purpose of your company. The following brand essence elements help align your internal teams around 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.

Ready for the next level?

Brand management takes workespecially when multiple people and teams are involved in the creation, management, and distribution of your content. A 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. For more information on our brand management solution, the Widen Collective®, contact a Widen advisor today!

Topics: Brand management

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