A brand style guide takes the heart and soul of your brand—your mission, vision and values—and translates it into design. It also tells everyone exactly how to communicate your brand. The smartest brands realize that in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors, they’ll need to form a well-constructed brand identity - a process that goes way beyond creating a good logo.
In this article, we’re going to shed light on exactly what a brand style guide is, why it’s such a powerful tool, and how to create one that will evolve with your business as it grows and develops. Think of your brand identity as your company’s personality. It’s how the world recognizes you and begins to trust you. If you see someone change how they look and act all the time, you won’t feel like you know who they are, and you certainly wouldn’t trust them. Imagine a co-worker who wears clean clothes and his hair is also cut short. Imagine if that same person walked into work one day unshaven, wearing cutoff jeans and sporting a new tattoo of a tiger riding a motorcycle through flames. It’d probably feel uncomfortable because it’s not what you’re used to. Actually we are not talking that every time a good looking person who is clean will be trusted and the person who is not clearly reformed will not be believed. It is what it is. The same logic applies to brand's irregularity will confuse and estrange your customers.
How to create a brand style guide
Define your brand identity
A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with your company. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.
Your brand is more than just a logo—it’s something that lives, breathes and evolves as your business grows. A well-developed brand identity will distinguish your business in the eyes of your audience.
A brand identity encapsulates your business' vision by portraying it in a way that’s understood —and most importantly—embraced by audiences. It’s part of the association they’ll make to your company and over time will build brand trust and foster loyalty, ultimately impacting the way they perceive your brand.
Research your competitors
A competitor brand is a rival brand that offers similar products or services for the same people as an existing brand, and tries to gain a higher market share, increased revenue, profits, visibility, audience, and outgrow the rival brand by stealing their customers with better marketing strategies.
Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering, can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. It will enable you to set your prices competitively and help you to respond to rival marketing campaigns with your own initiatives.
Here are six steps to getting started on competitive research:
Identify main competitors.
Analyze competitors' online presence.
Track your findings.
Check online reviews.
Identify areas for improvement.
Tools for competitive research.
Include all the essential elements
Brand elements are essential because they help you develop a brand identity. Your brand identity dictates your business' cohesive look, from how you communicate with customers, to editing style for your social media posts, the font you use in your YouTube video end screens — really everything.
Now is the time to get creative, and integrate your brand’s identity into the visual elements:
Photos, illustrations, and icons
Social media pages
Plan for brand evolution
Brand evolution is a baby-step in response to customer feedback, design trends, the marketplace and internal changes too. Brand evolution enables you to revamp and make changes in response to customer feedback, design and marketplace trends, and internal changes while staying true to the mission.
The 4 simple steps to evolving your brand: