Branding is the essence of a company. It’s how you create consistency and brand recognition with customers and prospective clients. Most people can look at the colors red and yellow and immediately think of McDonald’s. Imagine if McDonald’s had changed their logo across various campaigns throughout the years, would the iconic yellow arches still be familiar to audiences? In order to maintain an unwavering brand identity, McDonald’s likely has brand guidelines in place to keep things dialed in even when there might be too many cooks in the kitchen (pun intended).
A brand guideline— which may also be known as a style guide or brand book— is the concrete standard of how your brand should look and behave. When you’re building a brand, consistency is key, and having strong brand guidelines ensures your brand identity is aligned with the overall company mission. When you have a cohesive brand identity, you’re building trust, perceived value, and instant recognition with your customers which ultimately affects the bottom line of the business.
A brand guideline includes everything from voice and tone, to the most up to date brand colors, fonts, and logos. It extends from marketing and sales, all the way to product development, and should be at the forefront of every public-facing communication across all teams. Typically, the marketing team will own the style guide and relay the information to other teams and departments within the company.
In this blog we share some things you might include in your next brand guidelines presentation, and how to effectively communicate them with your colleagues, teammates, or external partners.
What to include in your brand style guide
Mission and values
First and foremost, you should establish your company mission and values. Your company mission statement— who you are, why you do what you do, what you value as a company, and company culture— will establish what the branded assets below look like and the emotions you hope to evoke with them. These are things that need to be top-of-mind when creating a style guide, and they should be clear to all employees and external partners.
When creating your presentation, this should be one of your first slides to set the tone for what’s to come.
Voice and tone
Are you mature and serious? Are you young and cheeky? Do you want to poke fun at the pain points your company is aiming to solve? Are you informational? Are you speaking to teams or individual consumers? Who is your primary demographic? These are all things you need to consider when mapping out your voice and tone for your brand. All of your external communications including marketing campaigns, sales collateral, emails, website design and copy, and company content should reflect this voice and tone.
We recommend creating 2-3 slides explaining the tone you want to achieve in communications, with examples such as “we’re this, not that”, and brand voice charts.
As a company evolves, logos may change with it. And that’s okay. What’s important is that each employee is provided with the most up-to-date company logo files so that there’s no confusion as to what they should be using. Logos are used in email signatures, marketing materials, sales pitches, business cards, and many other client-facing communications, so you’ll want them to be consistent.
In your presentation, you can include a slide with all of the different logo variations. Of course, you’ll want to add a link to those files on the slide so that your colleagues are able to download the hi-resolution files and use them as needed.
Another important aspect of branding is brand colors. As we mentioned above, your company colors should be determined by the emotions you’re hoping to evoke in alignment with your company mission. For example, red shows leadership, strength, and energy, while blue represents confidence, trust, and a sense of calmness. The colors you choose affect the tone of your overall brand.
In your presentation, you should showcase your brand’s color palette on one slide. You might also include the individual color code for each color so that team members can easily identify (or copy and paste) the correct hue when creating their own assets.
Typography is the fonts associated with your brand. This applies to things like your website font, text overlay on graphics and marketing assets, the fonts you choose for your newsletters or emails, and the text you use within your product interface. They should all be the same, or within the same font families.
In your presentation, include the font names, the font weights, and examples of each so that the team can easily see what typography is approved to use. You can also include downloadable links within the deck, and install instructions, for easy access to getting those fonts uploaded on their own computers.
Iconography and photos
Last, but certainly not least, visual assets pull a lot of weight in brand identity. Your company’s designer will likely have an established library of pre-built custom icons and graphics, and they will all have a very distinct creative style. That’s intentional, and colleagues shouldn’t stray from that style when creating their own designs. Similarly, there should be a universal standard for lifestyle imagery used in marketing campaigns, blog content, and social media posts.
We recommend using our Photo Grid Smart Slide template here to display examples of approved icons and photo styles. By sharing plenty of examples it makes it easier for teammates to reference down the road when they find themselve digging around for stock imagery.
Sharing brand guidelines with your organization
While some might opt to compile everything in a shared folder, we prefer presentations (we’re only a little biased) for sharing out branded assets and guidelines. Sure, shared documents are great, but no one wants to sit down and look at a 15 page Google document. With a Beautiful.ai presentation that lives in the cloud, it’s just as easy to update on the fly and share out with appropriate parties via a shared link. And it’s easier on the eyes (we’ll chalk that up as a win). Not only are presentations more visually appealing than a simple text document, they make the information more digestible for audiences. Plus, if you plan to present the brand guidelines to the team or external partners at any point, it’s nice to have it all in one deck for the presentation and to send out afterwards as a follow up. Do we have you convinced?