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Branding Your Business

How to Build a Brand Book for Your Small Business

brand_book

As your business grows and you bring on freelancers or employees to help with your marketing and branding, it can become difficult to manage the different styles of everyone involved. That’s where a brand book comes in handy.

A brand book is simply a document that outlines the guidelines for your brand logo, colors, font and marketing message. It can be just a few pages, or something more in-depth like this one for Skype.

Why You Need a Brand Book

Let’s say when you started your business you worked with one graphic designer for your logo and branding imagery. Now you have moved on and are hiring a new freelancer. He will have to start from scratch to try to figure out which font and colors you use. This will cost you in time and money.

On the other hand, if you could hand him a book (or a digital copy) with your branding information and style preferences, the job becomes easier and the work will be more consistent with what you’ve had done in the past.

For marketers, a brand book is helpful as well. You can include approved call-to-action messaging, keywords and slogans to make it easy for your marketing communications to be consistent across your social media profiles, your blog and your web copy.

How to Build Your Brand Book

You’ll need to rely heavily on your current designer and marketer to help you create your brand book (also called a style guide). You’ll want to include everything that pertains to your visual branding, as well as your written communication.

Overview of the Company

Before you dive into the visual and the written components of your brand book, consider starting with some information on the history of your company, evolutions in its branding and any other details that will help designers and marketers better understand your brand messaging.

The Visual Component

Much of your brand book will deal with visual design elements, and can help your designer know exactly what you’re looking for when designing brochures, flyers, social media avatars and customized blog imagery.

  • Logo

Include several size options and layouts (horizontal and vertical) that can be used in a variety of situations like email, web banner, printed materials and web pages. Include both color and black and white options, as well as variations that can be used across social media, your site and marketing materials.

Include several size options and layouts (horizontal and vertical) that can be used in a variety of situations like email, web banner, printed materials and web pages. Include both color and black and white options, as well as variations that can be used across social media, your site and marketing materials.

  • Font

Having some clear guidelines around font usage will create consistency from your emails to your brochures. You may have different requirements for each type of marketing tool. Be sure to include what typefaces are to be used, how they are used, how they should be styled, the appropriate size to use and the color scheme that’s approved for color font.

  • Color

Providing details on your color palette will tremendously help designers. But don’t just stick to one or two colors; include information on entire color schemes that can be used for different situations, like your social media background image or email campaigns. You may want to set up different color palettes for different seasons or events.

  • Images

Do you use stock photos from a particular site? Hire a photographer? Use graphics? This is pertinent information for this section, and will ensure consistency in all images. Make sure to record details on size requirements for images, especially as they relate to ads or your blog.

The Written Component

Leave room for your communication guidelines. You want to carry your branding message across all channels, from social media to your web copy.

  • Word Choice

If there are certain words you prefer in your messaging (or certain words you want to avoid), list them in your brand book. Your marketing team should have an idea about which words get better results in everything from a tweet to a promotional email.

  • Calls-to-Action

If there are specific phrases you prefer for your calls-to-action – maybe those that have proven to have a better conversion rate – list them here, along with where they should be used. If you sell products online, you’ll want variety in your calls-to-action during the checkout process, as well as to attract email signups.

Social Media Guidelines

Here, it’s good to list out what types of social updates you prefer for your brand, as well as what types should be avoided. For example, you can make a list (like the one below) of the types of Tweets you want:

  • 45 percent shared content from other sites
  • 30 percent shared content from our blog
  • 25 percent promotional shares

Your brand book should be as long as it needs to be to communicate your branding guidelines. And remember: it should be updated as these guidelines change.

Share your brand book tips with us in the comment section below.