Updated: Oct 17, 2022
In one episode I welcomed co-founder of Portland Salt Co., a local Oregon entrepreneur who teamed up with her husband to start a salt company, Becca Christensen, and in that conversation we discussed brand guidelines.
What is a brand guideline, why is it important, and why should an entrepreneur care?
Again, let me start out by saying I am not a marketing guru. I took a few marketing classes at Portland State where I met my wife, and then she proceeded to kick my ass in negotiations the following semester - but that’s for another time.
I’m an entrepreneur. I want to take small ideas and scale them into large ideas that make a profit, and that is pretty much what a brand guide is built to do as well. How to take a small idea, target specific areas with content, and build a bigger idea.
A brand guide is a document that details a company's visual identity, along with rules and guidelines for any public-facing communication.
Brand guides set forth rules for official logo usage, font type and color, typography, and tone, along with the brand's mission statement, positioning, identity, and values, per Masterclass.
Now a brand guide is quite inclusive of the entire company, and it starts with the mission statement. The brand guide can help ensure that all of the content created is working towards the goal or goals set forth by the mission statement - the company's true north.
It can also include color palettes the company will use, and combinations in which they will be used, how the logo will be governed, webpage, print ads, radio ads, etc. It is the guide to help build a marketing plan, but that is not all.
It outlines typography, which is the art or procedure of arranging typed words or processing data and print from it. It is the taglines, the blogs, and website links. It helps make sure all of those things also follow the brand guide down to the spacing between the dotted ‘i’.
If in fashion or sales, it is the guide that helps determine what styles or products to phase in or out. Hold onto an item long enough and it may be phased back in like plaid or polyester.
A brand guideline goes so far as to identify buyer persona.
Persona in user-centered design and marketing is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.
Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments.
For example: my target audience is the 18-55 year old educated business leader or aspiring business leader. That is who I am trying to target.
On CANVA I have certain font and colors I use. Although I have a very loose brand guideline, I have one.
A brand guide helps create consistency, and that is why it is important.
A consistent brand becomes recognizable. It creates immediate recognition with the target audience.
It helps the brand stay focused on introducing new products or services. It is easy to forget the little things when the big things get bigger.
But most important, it helps bring brand value, and that is why an entrepreneur should care.
When there is cohesive messaging, colors, font, and identify, it increases perceived value. It creates a professional and reliable appearance. A brand customers can rely on.
A brand guided by principles, with a little bit of salt.