You know it’s important to brand your business or organization, but do you know a brand goes beyond a simple logo and color palette? More importantly, do you know how important it is to be consistent with your brand? According to a study by Lucidpress, brand consistency helps build relationships, generate leads, and could even increase your revenue by 33 percent. Achieving brand consistency is simple — create a style guide.
A style guide is a reference tool for the brand identity of a business or organization. This outlines the overall look and feel of a brand, from visual guides, such as color palette, typography, photography style, and logo usage, to editorial guidelines for personality, tone, and grammar. The style guide should be used by everyone in the company or organization for every piece of design or communication on any platform, including web, social media, print, and internal or external presentations.
Great question! You already know being consistent with your brand is important for relationships, generating leads, and increasing revenue, but how does a style guide influence these positive outcomes?
A logo and tagline are just the start of making a distinct brand. A brand goes beyond the basic assets to personify a business or organization, and that personification is shown through every form of media and communication whether it’s on social media or a quarterly newsletter. But creating a brand is only valuable if you consistently live up to it. Your brand determines how your audience connects with you, so it’s important to have a well-defined identity. This will develop brand recognition and distinguish your business from the competition.
The idea that a distinct brand is cultivated through consistency is backed by a psychological term called context dependent memory.People remember information better if it’s in the same context as they originally learned it because the surrounding environment — in this case it’s components such as fonts or colors — act as the cues to a person’s memory. Being able to consistently recognize and remember a brand increases awareness, which leads to a distinct and recognizable brand.
Research supports that brand trust influences purchasing decisions and ad receptiveness. This trust goes beyond factors such as online reviews and customer service into a deeper element — reliability. Being consistent with your brand helps build this go-to, reliable image to establish a business or organization your audience can count on. This leads to more confidence in your brand and a better relationship between you and your audience.
A disconnect between design and messaging not only hurts your brand, but also makes it confusing for users and creates a poor user experience. For example, someone might question the authenticity of a letter if the secondary colors didn’t match other documents from your company.
Brand user experience goes beyond the technical aspects into the overall tone and personality of your business or organization. For instance, everyone loves great customer service, but Chick-fil-A made extremely positive and attentive customer service part of its brand. If you’ve ever eaten at the fast food restaurant, you could imagine how confusing it would be to receive your spicy deluxe sandwich with a side of attitude from your server. This would create both a poor user experience and a disconnect with the company’s established brand.
It’s easier to all be on the same page when there’s less people to heed the message. Imagine your company’s brand relying on a game of telephone. It’s easier for the information to be passed between a few people, but as you grow and it’s passed between tens and hundreds, the message is far from its original content. Adding more employees to represent the brand without a clear distinction of what the brand is creates confusion and a disconnect between the message you’re sending to your audience. Having a brand style guide ensures accuracy and allows your business to grow with less headaches.
Having a style guide eliminates boundaries by having a resource to easily share important company knowledge. This is important for your office because it’s not just your marketing and communications department that needs to know your brand. Everyone, from your interns to your CEO, should be familiar with your brand.
A style guide also allows organizations with multiple locations to be consistent and able to collaborate on a design or document from hundreds of miles away while all following the same guidelines. Along with better internal collaboration, having a style guide makes it easier to collaborate with outside organizations for instances like onboarding a marketing agency or making sure a business is using your logo correctly for a sponsorship opportunity.
Every business or organization should have a style guide, whether they create it themselves or consult an expert. If you do work with a professional, a style guide is a long-lasting deliverable. Having the details of your brand and its usage takes the guesswork out of it — you already have the expert opinion on what to use and how to use it.
Whether you’re creating your own style guide or working with a branding expert, you need a clear understanding of your business or organization’s mission, values and goals before you start. As branding guru William Arruda said, “Successful brands are based on authenticity, drawn from real achievements, real strengths, and real emotions that are alive and well at all levels in the organization.” Once your team is in agreement about those key components, you’re ready to start creating and refining your brand through a style guide.
If you’d like to work with a pro to create your style guide, contact us! Webspec has a team of branding experts that would be happy to help create and define your brand.