No matter how small your business is, you need people to know it's you. Your branding is key to the identity of your business and will also have a lot to do with its success. The idea of building a brand identity and creating brand guidelines can be daunting, though, but it doesn't need to be. There is plenty of information out there to help you and free tools too.
Remember that consistency is the backbone of an authentic, trustworthy, and recognizable brand and customer experience, so this means having consistency in the way you look, speak to, and service your customers and target audience. Staying consistent takes effort, and it also means you have to have rules, and this is where you need to write yourself some brand guidelines.
Brand guidelines are a set of rules about how to represent your brand across channels and assets, helping your business build credibility and recognition as you grow. They can include visual guidelines such as logo usage, color palette, typography and they can also cover your company's mission, brand voice, and imagery.
You then need to use your brand guidelines when you are designing brand assets such as your website, invoice templates, brochure, social media accounts and packaging. Make sure any new employees are aware of them, and of course, any designers you are working with are too.
You can either create your brand guidelines yourself or outsource to another company to do it for you. If you're not sure about it, you can search for other company's brand guidelines online as an example. You'll find some great ones and very detailed, but you can use these as a guide and adapt it to your company. This way, you'll make sure you don't miss anything, though, and you'll also learn from someone who has done it and shown that it works. Check these out as good examples:
Walmart Corporate Brand Guidelines cover just about everything you can imagine. It includes direction on the brand's editorial voice and how to use its logo in print, online, on promotional merchandise to name a few. It also covers appropriate fonts and how to use logos, icons, and taglines correctly.
Then there’s the Mozilla Style Guide which is another really useful one to look at. It has an online style guide to help its open source community understand how to use its logos and trademarks for Mozilla, the Firefox browser and its other products.
It isn’t just about looking pretty, according to a study from The Verde Group and the Wharton School, two-thirds of all shoppers use more than one channel to make purchases so with all the online and offline opportunities to make an impression, it’s about consistency across all channels and touchpoints to make your business branding and identity familiar, pleasing to the eye and recognizable to your customers.
Keep it simple by focusing on a small number of fundamental brand values; be consistent because every aspect of your business should make customers feel the same way about you. Additionally, communicate your brand. Make sure every advertisement, brochure, and letter helps reinforce the same message. If you have a logo, use it everywhere, but make sure the quality is consistent.
Remember to be honest. If you don't believe in your brand, no one else will.