Do You Have a Brand Manual or Style Guide?

If you have answered this question with a “no” but deal with vendors, suppliers and media on a regular basis, then you need to consider working with your designer to create one.

One key way to build brand equity is to create a set of “design rules” that tie together the look and feel of all your marketing materials. We pull this together into something called a “Brand Style Guide” that can be shared with internal departments, marketing and design agencies, suppliers and media.

Style Guide and Brand Manual

At the very least, it is important to have a style guide to keep your look consistent across all consumer touch-points. Having on hand a quick guide to your corporate fonts and colours is a time saver that ensures that your logo and/or wordmark will be seen accurately on everything from websites to t-shirts.

Build your visual STYLE GUIDE around these 4 key areas:

  1. Logo: The consistent use of your logo is the most important piece to your brand. A style guide outlines how the logo should look on different materials and backgrounds. It will outline the placement and size that should be used for different communication and marketing collateral.
  2. Colour: Colour is the second most important component to your brand identity. Colour makes an immediate impression and impacts perception of your brand. Colour has different meanings in different industries and different cultures so a lot of research is needed before final selection. A style guide will show how a colour can be used and how your logo will look in Black and White scenarios. A style guide will define the colour model depending on where it will be used – ie/ RGB for digital / CMYK for Print / Pantone for solid colour use. (Basic Colour Theory)
  3. Fonts: A brand style guide will outline the font families that are associated with your brand materials. This is usually limited to one or two fonts along with different weights and sizes for Headlines, Body Text, and Info-Graphics.
  4. Visuals – Graphics / Illustrations / Photography: Every brand needs to consider what type of visuals they want to represent their brand. Graphics such as symbols and shapes should be used the same way across all materials from environmental signage to annual reports to digital assets. The style of illustration or photography should be consistent across all corporate materials. Seasonal advertising campaigns would have their own specific style sheet that would fit into the overall guidelines.

If you do a lot of packaging, advertising or media events, a brand manual will include everything from your mission statement to your brand voice to how your taglines should be used to what photo filters to use on your custom photography.

Being in control of your brand across all touch-points is a very important step in helping you keep all your dots connected.

Check out a post by Mary Stribley that showcases  50 great examples of Style Guides

TIP SERIES FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS: Build Your Retail Business Using Someone Else’s Dollar

TIP:  Take advantage of a brand’s co-op allowance

Take advantage of Brand Co-op dollars

Many brands don’t verbally offer co-op programs out the gate and quite likely are overspending on the big box accounts that demand it. BUT, if you don’t ask for it, you will not receive anything.

Before you pick up that phone or send out that email request to your favoured brands, there is a catch. Don’t just ask for money and use it for your traditional ads.  Put some serious thought behind the campaign objectives, so that the brand knows you understand their vision and messaging for the season. Prove to them that you really want to grow their brand in your store by being creative in how you are going to bring the campaign to life.  Brands will often give more than the typical co-op percentage if they feel it is going to reap rewards and improve their brand presence on the floor.

Agree to top up the product inventory the week before the campaign starts, to ensure that you will have enough stock to complete the campaign. This shows the brand that you are committed to making the campaign successful.

Once the campaign is completed, follow up with the results to ensure that you will receive more brand dollars next season.

Attention To Details Convert Consumers To Fans

I love when a brand takes the extra time to pay attention to the little details that allow a customer to continually make small discoveries about the brand. A brand should consider how they can make each consumer touch point a unique experience.

The online buying experience from storytelling through shopping cart checkout to the delivery should be memorable. BUT the brand experience should not stop there. What happens after Fed Ex drops off the package at your door?

A great example of the ongoing discovery is “Johnny Cupcakes“. I am not going to expand into the history of this lifestyle brand – I will let you explore the website and discover the story on your own.

First, the package was not your typical brown box, but a custom bag with fun illustrations. Once opened, the tissue paper was not only branded but expertly creased and folded. Inside the tissue was a “freshly sealed” bag ensuring that the product was not ruined during shipment. A couple stickers were tucked inside as a little extra gift.

Johnny Cupcake Delivery Packaging

Johnny Cupcake Delivery Packaging

The attention to detail though does not stop there. Check out the hangtag with retro design that emphasizes the bakery theme.

Johnny Cupcake Hangtag

Johnny Cupcake Hangtag

 

I absolutely love the use of the oven mitt and rolling pin to continue along the same theme. Bon Appetit!

Johnny Cupcake Neck Tags

Johnny Cupcake Neck Tags

There are so many more details, but I don’t want to ruin all the surprises that this one simple t-shirt holds.

At what point did I switch from being a customer to being a believer in the brand and becoming a serious fan?  The shipping bag had me intrigued. The hangtag had me wanting more. The oven mitt tag put me over the edge.

It doesn’t stop there…. check out Johnny Cupcake’s social media feeds to discover original content that speaks to their brand uniqueness!

____________________

“Do more of what makes you happy!” __Johnny Cupcake