You want your business to stand out in your industry. You’ve worked hard to build a product or service that people can use, and once people start to take notice, it’s important to make sure people can recognize it everywhere it appears. Think Starbucks. Think Apple. Think Nike. When you do think about them, chances are you think of nonverbal cues or maybe even just emotions that those brands evoke.

The reason is that a good company builds a brand from the ground up by taking everything it does or says into account, from where and when its logo or tagline is presented, to how they share things on social media. It’s a coordinated effort to build an identity and it starts with a brand guideline. They are important if you want to build an identity for your company, and here are the basics you should include.

The Key is Consistency in Your Brand

Logo Usage

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating a logo that captures someone’s attention, whether it’s on a t-shirt or a Facebook ad. You choose the colors and shapes deliberately because you want it to be the signature of your brand. That’s why you need to set up rules on how it’s used: share the color palette, the spacing around each element, minimum size requirements, and any identifiers like disclaimers or trademark symbols. Don’t leave these up to chance when working with vendors; make sure they use your logo the way you envision it.

Typography

This one goes hand-in-hand with logo usage because they’re usually designed in conjunction. The Nike “Swoosh” and the font “Just Do It” underneath it didn’t just happen by accident. That font appears consistently across all Nike marketing material and sites. Yours should be no different. Find two fonts that work with your logo—one for headlines and one for body copy—and stick with them throughout everything your marketing team produces.

That includes the font on your website and even boilerplates that go on letterhead. The fonts you choose help establish a tone and personality for your brand so choose wisely and be specific about font weights and sizes as well.

Imagery

It can’t be stressed enough how important consistency is when trying to brand a product or company. People need to feel comfortable with it if you want them to get familiar with what you do. Using certain images that may be cool and confident somewhere, and then more relaxed and funny somewhere else may create a disconnect. Decide what you want your imagery to convey and stick with it for the sake of consistency.

Tone of Voice

One of the final and most important pieces of a brand guideline is the tone of voice or editorial style. This doesn’t focus on grammar as much as it does on writing style. These are the decisions you make on vocabulary and tone of voice, like what to initial cap in headlines, how to write out a phone number, when to use italics, when to hyphenate something, and more. Think of any instance where there are different ways you could write something stylistically and make a decision on what your company will do. Feel free to base it off of established style guides like Chicago Manual, AP, or MLA stylebook.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build a brand in the digital age, contact PCG Companies and let’s get started.

About the Author

Nick Jiorle is a Content Writer at PCG with a background in copywriting, branding, and brewing craft beer. When he's not crafting optimized content for clients, you'll find him either brewing or out in the water in search of the perfect wave.