One of my most used apps is the logo quiz game.
It's exactly how it sounds. You're given an image of an international logo and have to identify it to move on to the next one correctly. The faster you recognize the logos, the more points you get.
For instance, two yellow-golden arches represent McDonald's. A swoosh sign is Nike. And an apple that's had a bite taken out of it is, well... Apple.
These brands are stuck in our minds for a reason — their strong brand guidelines are the glue that makes them stick.
The marketing rulebook on how brands can stand out from their competitors is constantly changing. With technological developments and changing consumer habits, brand guidelines also need some love and attention to evolve.
So, is your guide a true reflection of where your brand is at the moment? And are your people paying attention to it?
In this article, I explain what brand guidelines are and the steps you can take to create a guide that people will read. And to really spark your creativity, I'll show you glimpses of Foleon's fun brand guide.
What are brand guidelines?
First things first, what do we mean by brand guidelines?
It's essentially an instruction manual explaining your company's design standards to employees. This includes communicating your brand to the outside world from a visual perspective, tone of voice, messaging, and everything else in between that forms a brand's identity.
For instance, have you ever watched a Nike running ad and felt like you could fly too? Well, brilliant brand guidelines go far beyond just a logo or icon — they can help companies capture that feeling of flying. How powerful is that?
What a style guide can do for your brand
Guidelines ensure brand consistency across the board no matter where your audience sees the brand pop up. It also helps create familiarity and reliability, which can lead to consumer loyalty over time.
Referencing a brand style guide also ensures your content and brand are distinguishable from your competitors. This helps you establish a strong brand voice, essential for building brand awareness.
How to build a kick-ass brand guide that everyone will love
You should approach your style guide the same way your development teams approach your products — you ideally want your creation to be innovative, dynamic, adaptive, and something that all people can get on board with. So keep those principles in mind when designing, or updating, it.
1. Avoid jargon and overcomplicating your guide
Hands up if you dislike jargon 🙋
To get everyone on the same page about your brand style, you should use language that is clear, concise, engaging, and easy to understand by everyone.
Of course, details are important, but just remember to keep it light with the technical jargon to avoid alienating readers. If your writing does verge on pretension, add a contact's name in case employees have follow-up questions or need assistance. Try and be as accommodating as you can.
Another point to keep in mind is to ensure that your brand guide is visually appealing. Text-heavy pages can be off-putting, so be sure to space out the text to make it easy to follow.
2. Make it accessible to everyone
Large companies with offices in different locations can benefit hugely from making their style guides available online. After all, a 40-page PDF brand guide found at the bottom of your inbox hardly screams "read me."
We publish our brand guides online so that employees can access them whenever they need them and from anywhere.
We also have a shortcut on Slack, where employees can type in the words' brand guide,' and the link appears as a custom response.
The easier it is to access your brand guide, the more eyes on it. That means more of your employees will be better informed and are likely to adhere to the guidelines.
3. Give off the same look and feel as your brand
The best way to show off your brand style is to make sure your guide practices what you preach.
Your brand guide should be the best example for your company to understand the look and feel you're going for with your brand style.
Since Foleon is a content creation platform, we've put our brand guide into a Foleon Doc so that the reader has the same experience as our customers do using our product.
We ensure all our content is easily navigable, digestible, ordered correctly into categories, and visually appealing, and our brand guide reflects that approach. Don't believe me? Check it out here for yourself.
4. Make sure it's easy to update
Agile marketing is the name of the game for modern businesses, which means that with changing tech, economy, and consumer behavior, your brand guidelines are always subject to change. You need to make sure you can stay on top of developments to survive and thrive, which is why it's extra important that you have a brand guide that's easy to update.
This is much easier said than done with a PDF brand booklet. However, with a digital one, like ours, you can update it in real-time (as many times as you want) without hassle or wasting time.
🚨 Bonus content: Check out this brilliant thought piece from Julie Alexander, explaining what a winning Brand Guide experience looks like. (Disclaimer: The article contains some snazzy graphics!)
Every little detail counts, from your primary color to the font you use in your copy.
Brand guidelines are an excellent tool for laying these rules out and ensuring that they're always followed. Guidelines are beneficial if you'll be using your visual brand elements in promotions, events, social media, webinars, advertisements, etc.
By proactively making sure that everyone is always on the same page, you'll have much greater control over your brand image. And as your business grows and matures, this will help build a trustworthy and reliable experience for everyone who engages with your brand.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to build (or update) your kick-ass brand guide!