Let’s start with the basics.
What is the difference between a brand style guide and brand guidelines? And why does your business need one?
There are two different guides your company can use depending on the complexity of your brand strategy – a brand style guide and a brand guide. A brand style guide, which I’ll discuss in a minute, is a one-page document that shows a quick overview of your company’s logo, colors, and fonts, as well as their correct usage. Whereas brand guides are more in-depth explanations that include the company’s brand strategy along with a style guide. Often, you’ll see the two guides talked about interchangeably, but either option will help with brand consistency. The complexity of your brand will determine which type of guide is needed.
Now, you might be thinking that you don’t need a style guide, but I can tell you from experience how helpful it can be when working with a designer or agency. Many times, a style guide will suffice for what your business needs, and it’s easy enough to put together on your own.
Download InDesign template here.
Download Word doc template here.
So why does your business need a brand style guide? Two words – brand consistency! You want your audience to recognize your brand no matter where they’re seeing it (i.e., print, social, digital). There’s nothing worse than having inconsistent fonts, colors, or different logo versions. A brand guide is a clear and quick way to help your team stay consistent, and it’s easy to share with outside designers or agencies.
If you have ever done any kind of design work, you’ve most likely used the color profiles CMYK, RGB, and Pantone. But when designing for print, there are a number of things you’ll need to consider, especially when working on a branded project. The design style, paper selection, and product distribution are always top of mind; but you also need to make sure you’re designing in the correct color profile for how the finished product will be printed or viewed. All of these things must be taken into consideration to make sure your color selection is spot on.
So, let’s talk about the difference between CYMK, RGB, and Pantone colors, especially when preparing an artwork file for print.
CMYK uses a series of dots (composed of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to create the illusion of different colors. CMYK color builds won’t always be an exact match a Pantone color, but they will create more colorful photos.
When using the Pantone Matching System (PMS), your brand’s PMS color(s) are created using a precise formula, so the color always looks the same.
**** When designing for print, even though you’re designing on a screen, your color builds should all be in CMYK or Pantone. ***
RGB is the standard color profile used for on-screen design. It combines red, green, and blue light in different combinations to create the colors you see on a screen.
Knowing the difference between CYMK, RGB, and Pantone, and when to use them, will help to keep your branding consistent. Of course, the process used for each project varies, depending on the nature of your print job. Our team is here to help and answer any questions you might have to ensure a successful print project! firstname.lastname@example.org
Love. Trust. Joy. Excitement. It’s no secret that emotions strongly influence our daily decision making. What may not be as obvious is that the colors we see in logos and marketing media can create an emotional response, connecting us with brands and effecting our purchasing decisions. In other words, the quickest way to your customers’ hearts may be through your brand’s colors.
The thoughtful use of color when designing your brand can help tell a powerful story to consumers that goes deeper than a simple logo or symbol. Color theorist Faber Birren wrote that biological, social, and psychological conditioning influences humans’ emotional association with color. For example, humans have been psychologically conditioned to see red as a sign of importance; a color to pay attention to, and also culturally conditioned to associate the color green with money.
Although consumers may already have developed thoughts about your brand and understand your products, services and mission, it’s when they’ve associated feeling with those thoughts that loyalty develops.
So, now that you have an idea why color in branding matters, the question becomes, “What colors best fit my brand’s identity?”
The chart below matches popular colors to their commonly associated emotional responses. Considering either a combination or a variation of these colors could be a great way to enhance the emotional response your brand creates.
Of course, there are no concrete rules for determining your brand’s colors. Trends change over time, and there are many schools of thought detailing how to best apply your selected colors to your brand materials.
One concept that is common across most color-branding theories is consistency. Once you’ve designed a color combination that best fits your identity, it’s important to present a united front of branded collateral that will encourage emotional association over time. This would include your web presence, logo, signage, print material, digital advertisements, and staff uniforms.
You are ready to WOW your clients with a sparkly new brochure, and you are primed to take the industry by storm. Now you just need to show all your potential clients why they should choose you over your competitors. Easier said than done. Spend all the money in the world on fancy papers and gold-foiled emblems, but the content is what gets results and sells your services.
Where to Start
Keep it short and to the point.
Create Engaging Body Copy
Target your content to your specific audience. Mistakes are often made by trying to paint with too broad of a brush. You only have a limited time to catch their interest, so you need to create content that is direct and on point.
Write from a reader’s point of view, not a business owner. Think of questions that your current clients ask you on a regular basis, and answer them in your text. Also, when listing bullet points, think of them more as customer benefits instead of listing a bunch of services that may not be clear to the end user.
A good balance of words and images is preferred and keeps the reader from skipping large blocks of type.
Great photography is not only beautiful and engaging, but it can tell your story, make a great impression, or push a potential client in your direction or to a competitor.
Infographics are another great way to create impact by breaking up long blocks of text and statistical numbers with something colorful, beautiful, and engaging. According to Forbes Magazine, “visual information—when presented clearly—trumped textual information by tenfold, and the study revealed that 90 percent of all information we remember was based on visual impact.” Provide your designer with statistics, sales numbers, production timelines, etc. and let them create something beautiful and eye-catching.
Think about utilizing whitespace (negative space). There is no better way to draw attention to something than the minimalist approach of using whitespace. It’s better than bolding, adding a drop shadow, or the ever-popular starburst! Your eyes are naturally drawn to the singled out area of the page, and it’s easier on the eyes when whitespace is used in body copy vs. forcing large amounts of text into tight areas. The following examples show text at the same size, but Sample 1 has a nice, readable laid-back feel, while Sample 2 has more of a hurried, frantic style.
Map Out Your Content
We will use the good old, tried and true, trifold brochure as an example, but the same principles apply to most layouts.
Panel 1 (cover of brochure when folded) The cover should have impact, and be an attention grabber. It should never be laden with text and information. The most effective designs will simply include a company logo, some imagery, possibly a tagline, and if so inclined, minimal contact info (website and phone).
Panel 2 (the first page seen when opening the brochure) Panel 2 is maybe the second most important panel of the brochure. It usually includes a summary of your business, a snapshot if you will of what you have to offer to the client.
Panels 3–5 (inside panels) This is where the meat and potatoes of your information usually goes. Oftentimes photos, graphics, or varying backgrounds are used to divide the space and keep it interesting.
Panel 6 (back of brochure when folded) Panel 6 is most often used for contact information and a call to action. End your message with a purpose (schedule an appointment, sign up for, act quickly to take advantage of…). A call to action could also work well at the bottom of panel 5, a natural ending point to the information on the inside.
Brochures can be an important part of your marketing strategy. Think of them as a portable sales rep, something to convey your message, or a representation of your company after an introductory meeting with a client.
Your information in the right hands can be a powerful tool for your success!
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