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How to Create beand Guidelines for your small business

What it is, Why You Need One & How to Get Started with It

Very often, small business owners assume that Branding is solely for BIG businesses with BIG marketing budgets. Well, the truth cannot be farther than that. Here, in this week’s post, we talk about all things branding – why your small business needs one and how to get started with branding guidelines. And, the best part – we’ve kept it all jargon-free. No mystifying terms or complicated tech-speak.

Without further delay, let’s dive right into the topic.

Why should Small Businesses focus on Branding?

Here, at Webfries, we can very well imagine what you’re going through as a small business owner – wild ideas flying around your office, umpteen things to be done, meeting potential clients, marketing your products, scouting for the right employees, and a never-ending to-do list!

With so much to do and so little time to get it done, we’re sure that branding is not the first thing that is on the top of your mind. We’re sure that you’re thinking, “My time is better spent on product creation, reaching out to potential clients, marketing my products, rather than on tweaking my brand identity.”

While all these are important, here are three reasons why you shouldn’t lose focus on your branding:

Reason 01: It helps to Maximize your Resources

When you’ve got a brand guideline in place, you needn’t start from scratch for every single thing you design. It helps to streamline decision making across several business components like:

  • Website
  • Sales and customer service
  • Marketing
  • Business Signage and Interiors
  • Social media
  • Communications
  • Content marketing
  • Stationary and other printed materials like flyers, newsletters, etc.

Reason 02: Makes your Business look and feel professional

Even if you’re a single-person run business, having a unique look for your brand, kicks things up a notch. All your designs – from your email, business cards, to your presentation, product packaging – should be consistent.

By being consistent, you make a bigger impact on your audience, as every piece of content and product from your brand, reinforces the image of your brand. People learn and perceive who you are, just by looking at your branding.

Reason 03: Distinguish your Business from your Competitors

When you have a well-defined brand image, you can easily stand out from your competitors. As a result, your potential audience is able to connect and identify your brand easily, among your dozens of competitors.

The key takeaway – Here’s the thing, consistency is key to building an authentic, trustworthy and easily identifiable brand image.

With that said, staying consistent is difficult, if you’ve got no rules to play by. This is where brand guidelines come into the picture.

In the next few sections, we’ll cover the following:

  • What are the brand guidelines?
  • What do brand guidelines include?
  • How to create, maintain and use your brand guidelines?

First things first,

What are the Brand Guidelines?

Simply put, these are a set of rules to represent your brand across various channels. Brand guidelines help your business gain credibility and recognition, as you grow.

Generally, brand guidelines include visual guidelines like logo colors, color palette, typography, along with your imagery, the company’s mission, brand voice and more.

If all this feels overwhelming, worry not! We’ll help you out. The starting point for defining your brand guidelines is to start work on your logo. Once you’ve finalized the logo, you’ve also decided on the typography and colors to use for your business, in the process.

What Should All Be Included in your Brand Guidelines?

Remember that brand guidelines vary from one business to another. Your business may or may not need the components listed below. So, don’t include them all just for the sake of having it. Instead, analyze each component and find out whether it suits your business requirements, before adding it to your brand guideline document.

Brand Guidelines generally include:

  • Logo guidelines
  • Typography
  • Color palettes
  • Usage examples
  • The mission statement of the brand
  • Brand voice guidelines
  • Detailed specifications for packaging, print materials, email marketing
  • Brand voice guidelines
  • And more

In-depth Explanation of what’s included in each component:

Logo Guidelines

Remember that your logo is the face of your brand. If it’s used in different ways across various channels, then it makes it difficult to recognize your brand.

Think of some iconic logos like – coco-cola, Apple, Nike, Mc Donalds, etc. Irrespective of the place and medium you spot these logos, they have the same size ratios and proportions, colors and fonts. This is why these logos have become instantly identifiable.

Here are the specific logo guidelines to include in your overall brand guidelines:

  • Elements of the Logo

This includes detailed specifications about the various elements that make your logo like icon, slogan, word-mark, etc.

  • Colour Variations

Mention the default color of your logo along with other variations like black and white logos, transparent logos and other color variations if permitted.

  • Clear Space

All logos need a clear space to ensure that it’s visible. The general rule of thumb is that logos should be surrounded by clear space that is 10% of the total size of the logo. Ensure that the clear space is free from the text and other graphical elements.

  • Unacceptable Uses

To ensure that your logo is always used in the right way, you have to give examples of what NOT to do with your logo. For instance, don’t change the sizing ration, don’t make it semi-transparent, don’t rotate, don’t change the scale, etc.

  • Colour Palettes

You have to mention the color palettes:

  • Primary color palette

This includes the exact colors in your logo. Specify the color names along with the codes for various uses (RGB and HEX for digital uses, CMYK for print uses).

  • Primary color palette

This includes the exact colors in your logo. Specify the color names along with the codes for various uses (RGB and HEX for digital uses, CMYK for print uses).

  • Secondary color palette

This includes complimentary brand colors used for headlines, text and other components of the design.

  • Typography

This section gives details about the typefaces, main fonts and secondary fonts used for your logo, headlines, body text and more.

  • Usage Examples

This section contains examples of your logo, fonts and other design elements used on items like t-shirts, packaging, business cards, etc.

Other Sections to Include in your Brand Guidelines

  • Mission Statement

This specifies the “what” and “why” of your brand. Spend some time refining and creating your mission statement, as it would set the tone for all your future branding efforts.

  • Imagery Examples

Give examples of images you want to be included in your brand designs. It can either be stock photographs or real photographs, based on your preferences.

  • Brand Voice

Start by identifying how you want your brand to sound. For instance, professional, friendly, casual, hip and peppy, helpful, and so on. Once you have identified your voice, use the same tone for all your content – website, blogs, social media, press releases, etc.

Finally, How to Create Brand Guidelines?

Most businesses create brand guidelines as a PDF file, that can be easily shared with all employees, third-party designers and so on. To start, you can use either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint to help you out.

Add all the components mentioned above. Include images, screenshots, clipart, etc. to make it visually appealing and easy to understand.

Once completed, save it as a PDF.

Here are Three Ways to Maintain and Use your Brand Guidelines PDF:

  • Share a copy of the brand guideline with all your designers. Store it an easy-to-access place like a cloud drive, where it can be accessed easily by all those who need it.
  • Assign a dedicated person to own the original document and update it, either semi-annually or annually.
  • Make sure to share the document with new recruits as well as freelance designers and printers.

Final Thoughts – Aim for Progress and Not Perfection

Creating a brand guideline for your business is not possible overnight. There is plenty of strategic thought and creative insight that go into the process. So, instead of trying to create a perfect brand guideline at the outset, start small and keep on refining it, till you get what you desire.

And, if you need any help of designing the perfect brand guideline for your small business or any other branding services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert designers and brand specialists, here at Webfries, your friendly digital media partner.

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