Brands need consistency to be able to market to and keep their customers. The are trying to build a brand that consumers will easily recognize and want to trust. But what does a Brand Style Guide include?
This varies from brand to brand. One common item is the brand’s history and background. This includes how the brand came into existence and what is it all about. One of the U.S.’s oldest brands is Colgate-Palmolive, the creators of the popular toothpaste. Their website tells about how William Colgate started out in 1806 selling starch, soap and candles in New York City. This may be something they’d include in their brand guide. But what about as the years and decades pass?
As these time passes, companies need to evolve to stay relevant. Some things must remain the same, though, so that the company is still easily recognizable. One company that comes to mind is Visa. They were founded in 1966 and their branding has changed with the times, while remaining consistent. Their Brand Style Guide would include rules that must be followed to remain consistent as well as liberties that can be taken to remain current. There are so many rules that anyone handling branding has to keep in mind. Those rules would also be included in a Brand Style Guide.
Think about how important image is to a brand. If they have a Marketing Director that decides he wants the company website to reflect his personal taste in contemporary art, he may have a problem. He needs to consult the style guide to see the types of images, colors and fonts that should be used to maintain the brand image. Details like color really do make such a difference.
Think about the earlier example of using the wrong color in the Coca-Cola logo. Color is one of the main things that helps us identify a brand. There is a McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona with green arches. It had to blend in with the local buildings and red would have made it stand out too much. I’m not even a fan of McDonald’s, but that is just wrong on so many levels. Brand colors need to be kept consistent. Brand Style Guides provide exact colors in hex (internet), RGB (digital monitors) and CMYK (print) formats. Pantone spot colors may also be used for companies that prefer their own specific colors. Think “Coca-Cola Red” and “Barbie Pink.”
The important thing to remember is that the Brand Style Guide is like the brand’s DNA. It shows everything the brand represents.