How to Create Brand Guidelines

Think about some of the biggest brands out there. Perhaps you get emails every few days from your favourite clothes shop, or you saw an eye-catching ad on a bus on your commute. If you think about the messages that come with these communications, it can almost play out in your head as though the brand is personified and speaking to you in a particular voice. That voice should match up completely to the messaging you see and the product or brand logo and everything else which comes with that communication.

Creating a 360° view of your brand is aided and maintained by building successful, thorough brand guidelines. This means that whenever someone within your business creates a communication, whether written or visual, for the brand, it matches up with previous messaging and style.

What are Brand Guidelines?

Interchangeable with the terms “style guide” or “brand standards”.

In short, it is a rulebook of how the brand should be represented across all communications. From logo colour palettes and variations to font types and tone of voice, it encompasses everything which relates to how the brand should be presented at all times.

Why do I need Brand Guidelines?

Brands need to be treated with respect. The slightest mishap in a communication can damage a reputation which has taken a long time to build up.

Look after your brand by creating a set of guidelines and ensuring consistency in communications.

All communications need to be on-brand whether it is a written communication, visual or a combination of both across media. Keeping all communications on-brand will help build customer belief in the brand and help them to recognise it the more they see it.

For example, imagine for a moment your original logo was red and blue. It was this colour on the website and then when in print, the colours had changed and the font looked different.

Particularly if you have a new brand, you need to have a strong presence and tone of voice from the start. You don’t want to be mistaken for a different brand altogether or seen as one which is constantly re-branding just to capture attention.

Maintaining a strong stance through branding will help customers or prospects to recognise the brand the next time they see it.

How to Create Brand Guidelines

All employees or third parties working on anything to do with your brand will need something to work from to make sure that all communications are in the same tone and style.

This goes for written communications, logo usage, video or photography editing and anything else you can think of. Even audio, to an extent, needs to sound like your brand and portray the particular values.

To help you get started, we have drawn up some key things to consider when it comes to creating brand guidelines.

Understand Brand Perceptions

One thing you need to do as soon as you can is to find out what your target audience think of your brand.

  • Firstly, have they heard of it?
  • Do they think it comes across as x, y, or z?
  • What is their relationship with the brand?

Using questions like this, you should be able to find words which the audience use to describe the brand. You can then compare them to the brand values and personality and see if they align or if the perceptions do not match up.

If brand perceptions don’t match up, you will need to think in depth about how to adjust the tone of voice and style of your brand to make sure you are portraying the right values and messages.

If, however, brand perceptions are accurate, it means you can lock down your efforts to make sure that anybody else creating communications for the brand can do it in the same manner.

Tone of Voice

A brand’s tone of voice is what is used to portray a brand personality. It’s all about how you say what you say. The whole concoction of word choice, phrasing, rhythm and structure of wordings whether written or verbal is what comes together to showcase the personality of your brand.

Creating an official tone of voice for your brand will make sure that anybody who works with the brand knows, for example, the level of humour to go for, and how formal or informal the tone should be. Tone of voice helps create uniform communications, which in turn creates an overall perception of the brand for all stakeholders, and this must be kept up.

Think about who is speaking in certain communications from your brand. Is it the brand as a general being, the people behind the brand or a mascot?

Whichever perspective the communication comes from, there still needs to be some conformity to the tone of voice.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Words and different phrasings of them can have different impacts depending how they are used.

Use common sense when creating your communications. Depending on the type of product or service you sell, the tone can vary largely.

For example, an eccentric clothes brand is likely to have a different tone to a high-end jewellery store.

It may be useful to revisit the research group you used initially, or conduct focus groups, for people to discuss how the words and phrases come across to them. If you are short for time, select a group of trusted employees and get their opinions on it.

Customer Personas

It can also be useful to develop personas of people within your target markets. This can include their interests, job type, role, and relation to your company.

Creating a few personas to work with can really help in visualising the audience and the type of communications and messaging styles they will respond to.

A Second Opinion

Once you have developed your brand’s tone of voice document, you may want to have it checked over so that everything is as it should be.

Check through yourself and with peers to make sure that colour codes and font names are correct, as well as logo shapes and sizings where necessary,

If you would like a professional proofreader to look through your document and tidy up any little tweaks with spelling, syntax and more, obtain an instant quote for our proofreading services today by visiting the instant quote page.