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Having a business means having a brand identity and when you go through the experience of branding your business and developing your business’ visual identity you get a wonderful rush of excitement and enthusiasm that comes with the process. Your business now has colors and fonts, icons, and style elements that are unique to you. Taking that major step towards legitimizing your business is an amazing feeling! But… what about once your branding experience is over? How do you move forward and ensure that you’re staying true to the beautiful branding that was developed for you? This is where your brand identity guidelines, or style guide, will come into play.
This week’s branding tip was, “consistency is key,” and in keeping with that theme, I am going to explain what brand identity guidelines are, what is or should be included in your brand’s identity style guide and talk about how you can effectively use your brand’s style guidelines!
Brand Identity Guidelines are the regulations for use, composition, design, feel, and visual theme of your brand’s collateral material.
Your brand identity guide, or style guide makes your life easier because it lays out your logos, typefaces, brand colors, photos, and graphic elements. With all of this information easily accessible you are better able to create your own graphics that are on brand. When you have the ability to create consistent graphics, post relevant, on brand images, and make consistent font and color choices, you build trust with your audience and foster brand awareness!
Since your brand identity guide provides you with so much information, you can focus on the content of your messages and advertisements. You also won’t have to spend nearly as much time making decisions about the styling of your content because it’s already done for you! So, style guides are definite time savers for business owners, their employees, and creative solopreneurs.
Let's look at an example!
This is an example of a visual identity guide that I created for PoundTown Gym. PoundTown is a strength and conditioning focused gym that wanted to stand out from the typical lifting gym – you know, the one that has distressed text and a picture of a loaded barbell, or a dog with spiked collar, or someone lifting – however the owner, David, did wish to see some type of fitness elements. Needless to say, this was a bit of a tricky situation because David wanted fitness elements, and an athletic look, but he also wanted to those elements to be distinct from other fitness establishments.
Since this gym is centered around lifting we did incorporate a barbell into his logo design, however, we left it unloaded and used it as line. I chose a clean, but still sporty typeface in Bebas Kai, and a friendly, welcoming font with Maveric. This gym caters to men and women, so we chose fairly gender-neutral colors. The biggest factors in this brand were that it needed to be sporty, friendly, and energetic.
Along with color swatches, I included his typefaces, signature pattern, alt logo, and icons. I also included some imagery and examples of how David might format social media posts, flyers, and ads. His style guide included color codes and additional information about his logo and logo variations – those pages are not pictures.
Okay, so how do you actually put this information to use? To use your brand style guide you simply take the elements that are set in stone for your brand (type, colors, patterns, etc.) and put them together to create the piece you want. If you are a business owner you probably won’t be creating super complex posters and ads, but you can create solid graphics by simply using you brand identity guide as a reference.
Let’s go back to PoundTown for a few tangible examples. Let’s say David wanted to post a Motivation Monday quote or phrase. He could do something like this:
Here I have taken two of his colors and one of his fonts. Simple. I added a lightened version of his blue to outline the text and it still looks on brand. I focused on the message I wanted to send, something that would stick to the feel of this brand and motivate its clients.
In this example, I have his light red color laid over the top of a picture of an athletic woman. I also use his cursive typeface, Maveric.
Here is an example of how PoundTown’s Instagram feed might look:
Finally, in this last example I created a simple cover image for a welcome packet, using his main colors and the signature pattern.
These are all simple items that David could make on his own, using his brand guide. He would simply choose one or both of his fonts, the brand colors he wanted, and any images. He could look at the examples provided in his branding guidelines and create great looking, on brand content.
You will also use your brand guide as an educational tool for employees or freelancers. If you have an employee who will be creating marketing pieces or outsource design work then you can pass along your style guide, so your designer knows what fonts and colors to use, as well as the general look of your current materials.
Having a brand identity guide is invaluable when it comes to content creation for your business! Half of your work is already done when you go to DIY your own content, and when you hire a freelancer or an employee you can give them precise information about the essentials of your brand. Utilizing your brand guide is easy and if you’re just starting out, having a brand guide will help you stay on track and consistent in your visual identity, which builds trust and brand awareness. If you don’t have a brand guide, you can easily create one, and I will cover that in my next blog!
How do you use your brand guide? Do you find it as invaluable as I do, and does it help you create stunning on brand visuals? I’d love to hear from you! Please be sure to comment below and be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from Akari Design Studio!