4 things to include in your business's brand guidelines
Last week, we talked about the benefits of brand guidelines for small businesses. As a reminder, brand guidelines outline the standards and styles that represent your business and ensure that your brand is presented consistently across social media and official documents. Brand guidelines put you in control of how consumers perceive your business. Basically, you are building your brand’s personality. Just as a person has individual qualities that make up their personality, so does a brand.
When building your brand guidelines, it’s important to be as specific as possible, especially when you plan to send the guide to external business partners like designers or vendors. You’ll want to explain not only what your brand elements look like, but also when and how to use each one. Here are some important categories to include in your brand guidelines.
When your business is first starting out, you may find yourself experimenting with different color schemes and styles. It’s okay to move outside of a single color family like blues or reds. Feel free to go bold with some complementary colors — that is, colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. You can get as complex as you like with complementary colors, but be sure to look at your color choices together to make sure they’re visually appealing. If you aren’t sure how to get started, you can use tools like Canva’s color palette generator.
Once your color scheme is set, you’ll want to make sure that your brand’s partners and employees get them exactly right. Add the general color names (i.e. blue, black, green) to your brand guidelines, along with images of the colors. Then, for each color, list the CMYK, RGB, and HEX color codes. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is used in print media. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and HEX (hexadecimal color) are used on screens. Programs like InDesign and Illustrator can tell you the specific codes for your choices.
Brand logos — and how to use them
Does your business have more than one logo? It should! Even if your secondary logo is the same image in a different color, it’s a good idea to have some options. Consider what the logo will look like on a white background versus black. You may find that you’ll need to reverse your logo’s colors or use other colors from your palette in order to see it better against the background.
Beyond colors, you may wish to have one logo that includes your tagline and one that doesn’t, or another logo that fits into smaller spaces. Include all logo variations in your brand guidelines, along with size and spacing requirements. The more specifics you provide about when to use each logo, the better. You may also want to include a quick section about what not to do with the logos, such as distorting them or changing their colors.
Every little piece of your brand matters, right down to the font and font sizes used in your brand’s text. You don’t need to get too complicated with it, but you may want to choose a font that looks good bolded and unbolded for subheadings and body text, respectively. Plus, you can choose a contrasting font for the header. In your brand guidelines, add each font in bolded and unbolded, along with the colors and point sizes.
Did you know that there are different categories of fonts? Some fonts, like Times New Roman, have stems on the ends of the letters — these are called serifs. Other fonts, like this one, do not have stems — sans serif. Choosing a serif for your header and sans serif for body and subheads is a great way to make them stand apart from each other.
About your business — mission, tagline, values, tone of voice
Early in the document, you should add some general information about your business. This is a great place to insert your brand’s mission and vision statements or any brand goals. If your brand is known for using a more casual tone in writing, make note of that. Add any information that you think will help paint a clear picture of your brand and how your brand’s personality fits. Although these elements aren’t quite as important to add to brand guidelines as the others, they do serve as a little reminder of what the brand represents.
Ultimately, the strictness of your business’s brand guidelines is up to you. October Dreams Marketing is here to help you discover your brand’s personality and set it in stone — get in touch!
By Elise Nelson