We recently had a client approach us about redesigning their website. Unfortunately another designer had rebranded their website and while the site looked great aesthetically, the new design and messaging didn’t reflect their brand identity.
As our team approached the project, we took a few steps back to understand the brand strategy before starting the conversation about site direction and design—but we found they didn’t have one. So we went through the brand process and in the end, helped them develop a brand guide.
Brand style guides create a recognizable, engaging and consistent voice and look that helps you make memorable connections with your audience. MarketingProfs defines the brand style guide as, “…a holistic set of standards that defines your company’s branding, referencing grammar, tone, logo usage, colors, visuals, word usage, point of view, and more.”
If you don’t have a guide, or if yours needs to be refreshed, here are a few tips to help with development:
Identify brand personality. Think about the way in which you want your brand to be viewed—is it compassionate, competitive, upscale, approachable, tenacious, high-tech? Use this input to establish the right brand tone and voice.
Start at the beginning. MarketingProfs advises, “If you already have a mission statement or boilerplate “About Us” description for your brand, start there. Revisit it to make sure it’s not only on point with what it says but how it says it. If you define your brand voice as conversational, but your mission statement is filled with corporate jargon, it’s probably worth revisiting.”
Get specific. Drill down to the essence of your brand: Who is your audience? What do they look for you to provide? What does your product or service enable them to do? What do you do better than any other competitor? Develop your company’s value statement and brand positioning using language that speaks—and resonates with—your audience.
Messaging. As you develop these brand propositions, you’ll find yourself using words that you associate with your brand (include a list). Outline how your content should be written…casual, informative, persuasive, sympathetic, playful, etc.; as well as style cues such as AP style, use of the Oxford comma, guidelines for emojis, etc.
Visuals. To ensure your audience recognizes your brand when they see it, your graphics must be consistent—whether it’s a display ad, brochure or website. Here’s a checklist:
- Colors: Detail your brand’s palette of colors. Include the hex, CMYK, and RGB codes for each color, as well as Pantone numbers.
- Logo: Include all versions of your logo and examples of proper uses.
- Fonts: Include all brand fonts for headings, paragraphs, etc., and their uses.
At Shamrock we help our clients create brand strategies that incorporate brand style guides to establish the framework they need for successful marketing content development. If you’re interested in discussing your branding guidelines, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.