What’s your personal style? Casual? Dressy? Glamorous? Artsy? Chic? Bohemian? Would you wear sneakers with a suit, or heels with jeans?
You can probably nail that answer down pretty quickly. But what if we asked you, “What is your brand’s style?” We’re betting that’s a little harder to define.
If you’re sending out any communications on behalf of your company, though, it shouldn’t be.
That’s why it’s important to have a branding style guide — and stick to it.
Proposals, ads, emails, PowerPoint presentations and letters should always match the style and look of your website, business cards and brochures. “What’s the big deal?” you might be asking yourself. “So what if I use a different letterhead than Bob — it just shows that I’m an individual. It still has the company name on it.”
The big deal is that you’re weakening your brand with each inconsistency in your business communications. And lack of consistency suggests a lack of discipline and lack of attention to detail to many viewers — a very big deal.
Style consistency applies to colors, fonts, logos, language and more.
A pharmaceutical company, for instance, might have a more serious brand style. It may use a serif font and muted, de-saturated colors. If a sales representative sends out an email using Bubblegum Sans and a pink background, the brand reputation just took a hit.
That’s an extreme example, of course, but illustrates the point.
Here are three tips for creating a brand style guide to ensure consistency:
- DO ask your graphic designer to create a style guide specifying colors, fonts, line spacing, logo usage and any other distinguishing design elements. Keep a copy of the guide in case you ever decide to change graphic designers.
- DO make templates of branded documents readily available to your employees to ensure that eblasts, faxes, PowerPoints and official letters maintain a consistent branded look.
- DO have your writers create a content style guide. This will include direction such as how your company’s name is to be used (e.g., is it ever abbreviated?); the proper spelling of company products; and the voice and tone of company communications. For instance, is your voice casual or formal? Does it include slang? Are there words that are instantly recognizable as being associated with the company? Is your tone warm, professional, sarcastic, cute?