Why your business needs a brand guide

When I first heard of a style guide or brand guide, I was a young journalism student, and it was about the newspaper grammar rules. All of the newspapers I\’ve written for comply with Associated Press (AP) style with a few \”local rules\” that were about how we handled specific local examples.

That\’s a writing style guide, but a brand style guide is about every aspect of communicating your brand. Guides allow everyone to be on the same proverbial page when it comes to your messaging. All businesses or nonprofits with more than one person involved should have a brand style guide, but I even have an unofficial one for my sole proprietorship. Brand style guides are important any time someone is writing for or about you.

What does this look like? Here are some specific examples of components to a brand style guide you need to consider to remain consistent across all channels.

Word Use-While it\’s a good idea to use slightly different words between your website, brochures, social media, etc. for variety, your tone, word choice, and certain phrases should be the same. It needs to make sense for your business. This can also include \”local\” (ie specific to you) uses that some might think is strange or even wrong.

Logo use-You should have several variations of your professional logo with consistent uses. For example, I tend to use just the notebook part for my favicon or whenever I need a visual but very small representation of my business. I also have versions that are vertical and horizontal for appropriate uses.

Photos-First, you need professional headshots that are exclusive to your business. Don\’t just use a selfie, a photo a friend took (unless they are professional), or even a headshot from a previous job. You may notice that bigger companies have employee headshots that all look similar. I can always tell when someone works for certain companies just from their photo. You need a new one if your headshot is from a different job. Moreover, use the same photos across all platforms, depending on the purpose. For example, I use the same photo for all my social media platforms. When I submit a photo for others to use to talk about my writing, I use a different photo. If I\’m consulting, I use yet a third photo.

Fonts/graphics-Your fonts, style of photos, and other graphics should be consistent style across all uses. This includes your website, social media graphics, etc.

Those are just four examples of what you need to consider when making decisions about your brand. Does your business have a brand style guide?

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