By Sam Meenasian 

As a business owner, you already know it’s important to ensure your brand stands out from competitors. One way to do this is to create a set of rules that work together to shape your business. In other words, you need brand guidelines – also called a style guide – to steer you toward keeping your brand’s content consistent and cohesive. If you don’t yet have brand guidelines, here’s why you need them and what they should include.

Brand Guideline Benefits

The main reason you need to develop guidelines is to ensure consistency in how your customers see you. This builds their trust, since they know what to expect when they go to your website or check out your social media posts. Presenting your loyal customers with something other than your usual style will only confuse or even upset them because they were expecting one thing and got something else.

Thus, instead of focusing on your products, they’ll be distracted by the change in your logo, colors, messaging, or other branding elements. Clearly, if you want your products to be the focus of any content your brand produces, make sure it sticks to the guidelines.

Include Outline of Design Decisions

Now that you know how important brand guidelines are, you need to know what to put in them. Start with design elements. For example, your guidelines should dictate what size your logo should be, which file formats it can be stored in, and where it should be used. After all, there might be times when the logo will need to be stretched, cropped, or otherwise changed to fit in a space, such as a banner ad, billboard, or business card. That’s why your guidelines should specify how much it can be modified.

Similarly, your brand guidelines should discuss which colors, fonts, and photograph styles are associated with your business so your audience members see the design elements that help define your brand. Otherwise, they might be a bit confused when they go to your Facebook page and see completely different colors and font styles than they see on your website or other branded materials.

Managing the Words on the Page

Don’t forget to include the written word in your brand guidelines. This means the rules should apply to any emails, flyers, brochures, taglines, social media posts, and website content associated with your business. To start, your style guide should go over the tone and voice of your written content. Is it light and casual, even funny? Or is it formal and businesslike? You will need to define the audience you’re writing for to determine this, and then you can decide on the tone those readers would most relate to.

Your brand guidelines should also have a list of your preferences when it comes to spelling, abbreviating, and capitalizing certain words. Many style guides even go so far as to determine whether their content should use the Oxford comma in a list! The more specific your guide is, the more cohesive your brand’s content will look.

In general, every brand can benefit from creating a set of guidelines to follow. Once you have a style guide for your business, be consistent when it comes to following it, and your customers will consistently recognize your brand right away.