Many people believe just because they have a website and write blogs or that they have a Facebook and are posting everyday that that’s enough to gain loyal followers and customers. Even though that is an important part of marketing, the number one most crucial piece of marketing your business is having brand guidelines.
Brand guidelines are a written set of principles to follow when creating materials to promote your business. These guidelines will help you establish credibility with your audience and instill confidence in them about what your business stands for.
Brand guidelines are the firm foundation of which your company’s mission is built upon. Without them, it’s as if you built a house in the sand. It’ll stand for a while, but as soon as high tide rolls in, your house will surely collapse and disappear into the sea.
Below we’ve broken down for you the three basic elements that make up the foundation of your brand guidelines, keeping you consistent and memorable in the eyes of your audience.
1. Audience Research:
You know why you started your business and chose to serve the community you did. You saw a need and you chose to fill that need. Unfortunately, that’s not enough though. You need to, on the deepest level, understand your audience. You need to pinpoint what makes them get up in the morning, what keeps them up at night worrying, their deepest desires in life, and most importantly their deepest fears – the things that hold them back from achieving those desires.
Now, it’s time for you to dig deep and do some homework! Once you’ve determined what makes your audience tick, you’ll have the knowledge needed to create an audience “persona” – meaning a detailed description of your ideal consumer encompassing information like their goals, pain points, values, demographics, etc.
Having a thorough understanding of your audience will help you to build messaging and creative that will best resonate with them – making it easy for them to choose to support you versus your competitor.
Conducting thorough research of your audience may not be an easy task, but it will GREATLY help you narrow your focus and speak to your ideal consumer directly.
Your messaging, meaning the copy you use on your website, social media channels, marketing collateral, etc., is how you communicate and relate to your audience.
When crafting your messaging/copy, keep your audience research in mind. Ask yourself these questions:
– Does it address the needs, wants and desires of my audience?
– Does it help me successfully communicate the value of my business?
– Is it consistent with my mission and vision?
– Does it set me apart from my competitors?
If you can’t answer “yes” to each of these questions, try again. If your messaging isn’t clear to who it’s speaking to and its purpose, then you won’t attract your ideal consumer.
There is a lot of psychology used in the selection of fonts, colors and patterns when it comes to brand development. How all these elements are paired together directly affects the way your audience feels and how they perceive your business. If the creative elements are mismatched and random, your audience will get the sense that your mission is also unclear and convoluted. It’s important that all the creative elements of your brand reflect precisely the same mood, vision and essence of your mission.
You might think that the exact fonts you use don’t matter, as long as the audience can read and understand what you’re trying to say. Wrong!
Type does more for a design than simply sharing the the written message. Different fonts invoke different feelings. The style you choose for your text can let the viewer understand the heart of your message before they ever read a word.
You should put as much thought and energy into selecting your fonts as you put into the audience research and messaging.
***For more information on Fonts, check out our blog “How to Choose the Right Fonts for Your Brand.”
The next creative element essential to developing your brand guidelines is your brand colors. These colors will have specific color codes in order to ensure you always use the exact same color, no matter what format. Depending on the medium (i.e. web or print) in which you are using them, you’ll find these codes in either RGB, CMYK or HEX format.
Now you may ask, “How do I choose my brand colors?”
A good rule of thumb is to start with a least three complementary colors. These will be used as your primary brand colors. If you go back and think about the audience research you conducted, you can use that information to determine the colors that will better attract and connect you to your ideal customer.
By doing this, you are utilizing something we like to call “the psychology of color.” Color psychology isn’t an exact science because of individual bias, but it can be used to help build a strong, relatable brand. If you’re interested in learning more about color psychology and educating yourself on the meanings behind each color, check out the article found in the footer.*
Pro-tip: Create a Pinterest “mood” board and “pin” branding or designs from other companies that, when you look at it, mimics the same emotional response you’d like your audience to have with your business.
Patterns are an important element when it comes to the creative aspect of the brand. They help to strengthen your visual identity.
Patterns are able to bridge the identity gap between all your mediums, whether digital mediums like your website or social channels or print mediums like your business cards or banners, by creating a uniform presence.
Choosing patterns is similar to choosing brand colors. Again, you want to first go back and review your audience research. What does your research tell you about your ideal consumer? Do they need to be calmed? Do they need to be inspired or motivated? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you determine the most appropriate patterns to use that will enhance your brand.
Something important to take into account when choosing your patterns…they should ALWAYS be complementary or secondary to your brand colors. They should never be “busy” or super bright.
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to get to work!
Once you’ve built out your brand guidelines, you can share them with employees, vendors and even freelancers ? to highlight what your company stands for and how you intend to provide that for your audience. This allows you to ALWAYS stay consistent in your marketing efforts – whether done in house or not.
After reading this article, if you’re still not confident in your ability to build this essential foundation for your business, click here to schedule a FREE 30-minute strategy session with us to map out a plan that will help you get started.