10 being that someone might see a photo you posted on social and instantly know that it’s you.
1 being, “I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
And, you are probably somewhere in the middle if you fall under the “Kinda depends on my mood and what’s currently trending” category.
Wherever you fall on this scale, we’ve been there! And, we can help.
As graphic designers, over the years it’s been a challenge some days to stick with a defined style when it came to creating ads, graphics, websites, etc. for our own business. We could easily create anything and design something new based on whatever we felt inspired by that day.
When we finally buckled down and looked at our own business like we always had looked at our clients’ businesses. We were able to make a game plan to stick to going forward in creating a strong and powerful brand that was cohesive and recognizable. (Plus- you know that whole practice what you preach thing was a major part of it!)
“Every interaction, in any form, is branding.” -Seth Godin
Remember that your brand is what someone says or thinks about when you walk OUT of the room. While some people’s opinions may be out of our control, it’s important that we put intention into the things that we can control.
The 6 areas of your brand that we include in a branding guide are: Story, Voice, Logo, Typography, Color Palette, and Photography. Yes… In this order.
We believe that it’s important to do the work on your brand’s VOICE FIRST… then visuals. So don’t skip the important step of defining your brand mission, values, and voice…. to jump right into the fun, face value stuff. We’ve seen it end badly, and would really hate for that to happen to you.
SO, WHAT IS A BRANDING GUIDE?
Big brands pay even bigger bucks to have an agency create their brand assets and a detailed guide for them to make sure that they stay within the intended use of every tiny piece of visual collateral they’ve created.
From thinking out how a logo should be applied in a design, down to the percentage of white space or text that should be on each graphic.
For big companies, this is super important because they have so many different hands in the pot creating content left and right. Enforcing the use of a brand guide, is the only way to make sure that all of these people are all making visuals that fall in line with the brand standards.
For a small business, we recommend taking a slightly less intense approach but defining your brand rules nonetheless.
A brand guide will set rules for how all things visual should look going forward, including: specific usage of logo, design elements, fonts, colors, name/tagline, photos, editing style, cropping, and even your copy.
All packaged up into a nice little PDF with a bow on it. Ready to deploy at any moment to anyone who has a hand in creating visuals for your brand.
WHY YOU NEED ONE?
As much as I’d love to say I hate rules… it would be a massive lie. I am totally the one who gets out the rule book for a board game and keeps it close-by throughout. “No, after you redeem your cards 3 times, you get 8 extra armies, not 10!” you’ll find me correcting in a heated game of Risk!
Rules are there for good reason, and should you choose to break the rules- you better have an explanation and be doing it intentionally. If you follow rules, the game makes more sense, the playing field is level, and you don’t have to think as hard about what is right and wrong.
So, if you don’t have a branding guide for your business, your bank account and new client inquiries will fluctuate just as frequently as your new fonts folder!
Having a clear brand guide will:
Make it easy and seamless when hiring a graphic designer, photographer, or virtual assistant. You can send them over the brand guide, color swatch codes, and fonts. You’re already more than half way closer to getting something you can actually use in your marketing.
It will keep you in your lane and save you lots of time trying to come up with an idea from scratch when you sit down to create any new visual assets.
Help you to build a branding empire that is clear, consistent, and recognizable. If your brand isn’t all these things, well then you have a business my friend… not a brand.
We’ve created 2 resources for you that will help you to create a solid branding guide of your own.
PDF Printable checklist: If you’re the DIY kind of person, we’ve put together some ideas for all of the things you may want to consider making rules for, and examples of what those might be.
Canva template: Fill in the blanks and create your custom brand guide that you can send to everyone on your team so that you never have to deal with off-branded content again!
We hope you love this template and have learned something new today! We’re always here geeking out over all things branding.
We’re all about helping small businesses with big plans grow online through connecting their Voice + Visuals. We’d just freaking love it if you’d share this blog post, and tag us on social media @ampersand_studios so that we can all connect there!