We cannot emphasize enough the importance of branding. And as a startup, you must place this as one of your top priorities.
Just think about this. If you are going to a grocery store trying to find your favorite milk, it’s so much easier to see it as you can already distinguish the logo, color, and packaging.
The same should be applied to your business. Even at the onset, you have to sit down with your team and think about the branding you can use for years. While you can always rebrand, we encourage you to create something that intends to last.
But here’s a fact. Your branding will only be successful if you have a brand style guide. You can refer to this as your team’s bible when creating your logo, website, and other paraphernalia. This is what your designers, marketers, and web developers could use for all your succeeding visual assets. The primary aim of a brand guide is for brand recall and consistency.
Creating Your Brand Style Guide
Before you come up with our brand guidelines, here are a few factors to consider. First, your startup must already have a mission statement. This could be one of the anchors when you create all your marketing materials.
Another thing you have to set in stone is your buyer’s persona. By definition, it means the fictional representation of your market. With this, it’s easier to come up with a style perfect for the audience. Using your market research, you can already plot the best color palette and even typography ideal for your marketing.
But apart from the visuals, you should also include an editorial style guide that gives your PR team an idea of how to write copy and how to phrase articles and blogs. Ideally, it should use a tone that resonates with your company’s mission and values.
Brand Style Guides to Inspire You
Here are a few companies that remained true to their brand style guides. You can lift some inspiration and start doing yours.
Netflix uses red and black on their logo, which according to them, provides a premium cinematic feel. They are very much particular on their logo’s background as they do not want to compromise visibility. On rare occasions, they use white for the Netflix logo, such as for video watermark.
They are also specific when it comes to using their logos on various merchandise. It should not be on doormats where people can step on it. Even placing it on disposable cups is not encouraged, as they don’t want their brand to be thrown away. Having it on food is a big no-no as well to protect their logo from being bitten or digested.
One company that never steers away from their brand guidelines is Apple. And that’s not surprising given their comprehensive reference. From their sales web down to store interiors, you can find it all from the brand style guide.
For example, they mandate affiliates to use signatures in all black or all white. They specifically discourage them from using grey, which is only for Apple’s use. In addition, they do not allow their signatures to be on a patterned or cluttered background.
Also, if you are a reseller of Apple products, you should never use their font in your marketing materials, unless these are provided by the company. They want you to use your own branding for store-specific promotional materials for a better customer experience.
Before all the other instant messaging apps we have today, Skype was already dominating the market. And we have to say, their brand style guide is a must-see. It’s the perfect reference material for their designers and even third-party vendors.
Their document provided an overview of what they are, including the mission. They also highlighted their market by adding various personas. In their case, they have a few. One is a 16-year-old teen, and another is a 38-year-old medium-sized business owner.
Even their tone is reiterated in their guide. They see to it that their voice is always plain-speaking and human.
When providing a brand style guide, it’s also a great solution to give out mock samples on different merchandise and platforms. This is what Fogg did with theirs, and it’s a clever technique. It will allow your designer to know your expectations at the onset, and pattern their output from there.
Another brand style guide you might want to follow is from Lloyd’s. What the company did was to create different guidelines for their market participants. They made various guides for the underwriters and service companies, brokers, coverholders, and agencies. This avoids confusion and loopholes when working with teams outside of your company.
We have to say, among all the brand style guides we’ve seen, Lloyd’s has one of the most details in it, making it a perfect sample for startups.
Canadian Olympic Team
The Canadian Olympic Team has several sponsors and companies backing them up. And to be consistent with the branding, they provided a brand style guide which is also translated to French.
If you must know, there are two dominant languages in Canada. One is English, and the other is French. It is logical to use both when sending out brand style guides to your designers and affiliates. With this technique, you will have less room for misinterpretation.
And lastly, we have Google. We all know how massive Google’s operations are. And that is why they have created a Brand Resource Center where you can find guidelines for Sponsors, APIs, User Reviews, Media, Entertainment, and Partnerships.
Since you are a startup, following this approach might seem overwhelming. However, using Google as a guide can help you develop brand guidelines that will cover your entire business. Thus, we encourage you to take a look.
Developing your product and service is important for any startup. That should be your core priority. But that doesn’t mean you should undermine the power of branding. And doing your brand style guide should be moving side by side with your product development. Do it as early as you can to launch and grow your business way ahead of your projected schedule.