Building a style guide is an important part of content marketing. You need both a company style guide as well as a more tactical, blog style guide. This post provides several tips of what to include when creating a brand manual to ensure consistency both online and offline across multiple platforms.
Why do you need a Company Style Guide?
The most successful businesses do not simply sell products or services. They sell a brand. A brand is more than just the company name or logo. It is the image your company projects. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when a person hears your name. It can be a feeling, a message, an expectation, or even an entire lifestyle.
It takes a lot to create a brand, and once you do, you’ll want to protect it. A company, or brand, a style guide is essential to help with both.
How do you create a Company Style Guide?
Tip #1: Company Branding Statement
Before you can tell others how to represent your brand, you must first have a thorough understanding of your own brand. If you don’t already have a branding statement, then our first style guide tip is to create one. Define your brand in a few sentences.
Remember that a brand statement is different from your mission statement. Although it may encompass similar ideas, a mission statement is your business goal while a branding statement is your image goal. Once you’ve created the statement collect other things you may need with it. Logo PNGs, team photos, CEO headshots etc.
Tip #2: Pick a Brand Manager
Provide the contact information for your company’s brand ambassador (aka the logo police). Even if you don’t have a full-time brand manager, assign the task to one person, usually the one who had the most involvement in creating the company style guide. If they were involved in the design, they’ll typically be the most protective of it and ensure the guidelines are upheld.
Tip #3: Logo Usage
Your logo is the most important element of your brand. You will be surprised at what people will try to do with it. Even if they’re trying to help promote your company. Make it clear how the logo is to be used, such as
- Placement – For example, should it always be in the lower right-hand corner or the top left?
- White Space – How much spacing should be around the logo? Use the logo or a part of the logo itself as a form of measurement. This prevents the need to find a ruler and makes it scalable to the size of the logo.
- Color variations – Do you have options for full color, one color, and/or black & white?
Although I usually discourage negativity, in this case, it is important to show how the logo should not be used as well. For example, if your logo should not appear in hot pink on a T-shirt. However, a reversed-out version may be appropriate. We suggest you have various different versions and sizes saved that you can give to anyone who would like to use your logo.
Tip #4: Tagline
If you have a tagline, when is it appropriate to use it? How do you use it? For example, is it always used in conjunction with the logo, and if so, is it always to the left of the logo? Will you provide the tagline in an image or will it need to be typed? If typed, provide the font, point size, spacing, etc. Also, don’t just write a tagline and forget about it. While you shouldn’t change it often, if you’ve had the same tagline for more than 5 years it could be time to check if it’s still relevant.
Tip #5: Company Fonts
In addition to the official fonts for your logo and/or tagline, provide acceptable fonts and styles for other uses, such as headlines, subheads, body copy, lists, etc. You should be aiming for consistency between your website and email communication.
Tip #6: Company Colors
Include swatches for your company color palette, along with their values in RGB, CMYK, Web/Hex, and PMS (Pantone). This will make the creating of any marketing materials much easier, and ensure that any new content compliments
Tip #7: Graphic Elements
Are circles a big part of your branding? Or maybe it’s squares, and not just one square, but a line of same-sized squares alternating solid and hollow. If your brand image includes any patterns, graphic elements, or icons, include clear guidelines on how they are created, found, used and placed.
Tip #8: Templates
Do you already have templates for ads, newsletters, slide decks, emails, etc.? Let people know where to find them, how to use them, and how they may or may not be altered.
Of course, every company’s brand is different, so you may not need all of these elements in your guide. What do you include in your company style guide?
How can we help?
Launching a website and need help writing and styling content? Or, are you tweaking your online message to improve brand visibility?
We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.