How a brand style guide can help you stay
focused on core business values
The brand style guide is a prime example of a thing that you never knew you needed… until you have one.
And then you wonder how on earth you got by without it!
I have my clever, inspirational and all round, awesome business woman friend Laura Turner of Hero Stores to thank for this. She mentioned that she’d put together a brand bible for Hero and went on to explain why.
It was a true lightbulb moment for me. As one who’s easily prone to lose sight of the bigger picture, I realised it was high time I drew one up for myself.
Here’s what I’ve learned since putting mine together, post-rebrand last year…
Why you need it
For the most important reason there possibly could be.
To help keep you on track with what your brand is all about, what it stands for, the ethos behind why began in the first place and most importantly, it’s purpose.
Why did you do this? What did you set out to achieve?
More importantly, are you still doing it… and feeling it?
What should it include?
Even just seeing this visual as I flip through the pages reminds me what it is I’m striving to create. And if you don’t yet have a mood baord, I would advocate making one of your own. Use Pic Monkey or Canva and get creative!
It’s always a good idea to include logos, examples and references of colour palettes and font types too.
I find this so useful when I’m creating graphics to use within blog posts. I’ve learned that simple is best and that you really shouldn’t be adding additional fonts and colours to your graphics.
Especially if the premise of your blog is a minimalist vibe!
My brand style guide also has some example blog imagery and a page containing three Instagram 3 x 3 grids that I find especially pleasing.
You can clearly see the mostly monochrome tones I aim for and those buff and blush tendencies that are allowed to creep in here and there!
I found that in the process of putting a style bible together, my brand message has ended up flowing down through a kind of structure.
First comes the business name and logo and then the all important strap line – “Inspiration For Stylish Living”.
This should feed into a mission statement of core values if you like. It then expands further into your brand ethos and what it or you really stand for.
As a blogger, this finally filters out into the subjects (my menu bar), categories and sub-categories of content that I aim to cover and am really passionate about.
It’s a good idea to also include a section of key words, hashtags and phrases that you feel truly represent you, your brand and your business. Say Hello to #ElevateTheEveryday!
As a lifestyle blogger I’ve found it incredibly helpful to include personal stories too. These aren’t long and detailed – they’re more of a quick reminder of the personal elements I look to inject into the blog. A couple of examples being:
“Takes comfort in the daily rituals of life” and “Appreciates and celebrates the seasons, attempting to find the positive elements in all of them.”
What do you use it for?
When I’m content planning for the months ahead, I use mine to help ensure that the blog post ideas I have are in line with everything mentioned above.
Years down the line, nearly ten for me, it’s very easy to lose sight of why you started and where you’re going.
Referring to what essentially are my own guidelines really helps if I’m stuck for content ideas too.
This happens quite a lot after all these years of blogging!
S T A Y I N G R E L A T A B L E W I T H P I N C H E S O F A S P I R A T I O N A L
A N D I N S P I R A T I O N A L T H R O W N I N . . .
Even something as simple as referring back to my personal stories, core values and key messages can spark off a theme or post series or even help to mould an existing remnant of an idea into something more viable.
If at any point you need to hire specialists in a creative fields such as photography and videography, your brand guide really comes into its own as a way of communicating. It becomes your visual reference in terms of the type of blog and Instagram imagery you’re aiming to create.
I find it also helps me to stay (and I do sometimes cringe at the term) “on brand ” with my overall intended aesthetic. In imagery that can be about much more than tone, light and colour etc. It’s also about the stories you want your images to convey.
For me that translates to relatable with a little pinches of aspirational and inspirational thrown in for good measure.
How do you make one?
That my friend is simple!
And that’s about the long and the short of it!
I can’t stress enough the benefits to be had from designing your own brand style guide. Even just getting everything down in one document can be incredibly enlightening when it comes to really pinning down what it is you want to communicate.
And once its in place, it shouldn’t remain set in stone either.
Like any component of a business, it needs to evolve and should be updated regularly. I would recommend re-visiting it once or twice a year.
Over To You!
What do you think about the idea of compiling a brand style guide for your business?
Perhaps you already have one and if not, would you consider creating one? Feel free to drop me a comment below or let me know your thoughts over on Instagram – I’m @onlinestylist.