How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Business

Are you making a good first impression with your potential customers?

As your business grows, you’ll have more and more opportunities to make a good first impression. People should have the same experience with your business, whether they see your logo on your company vehicle or go to your website to learn more about your services. 

Your brand is more than just a logo and color combination, though. It’s what people expect from your company and how they talk about you when referring others to your business. 

-And making a brand style guide is a great way to help you stay on track!

What a Brand Style Guide is and Why You Need One

A brand style guide is a document that outlines the specific fonts, colors, images, and styles that you want to use for all of your marketing materials. It can help to create a cohesive look across all of your branding, and it will make your company’s overall look more professional. 

Creating a brand style guide can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!

If your business doesn’t have a mission statement already, you should think about what makes it unique and take the time to put it on paper.

What’s your company’s voice and personality? 

Who is your customer? 

What would they expect when interacting with you?

Answering these questions is a great place to start shaping what the heart and soul of your company looks like visually. Then, choosing the right design elements will help you achieve that goal. 

Remember, the intent is to create a guide that will help you maintain a consistent look and represent your brand’s voice and personality. So, don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with it!

How to Create a Brand Style Guide

When deciding on the overall tone and voice of your brand, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Start by creating a mood board. This can be as simple as cutting out images from magazines that reflect the look and feel you want for your brand, or you can create a digital mood board using Pinterest or another online tool. 

It may seem unnecessary, but having this in place first is a helpful way to keep your thoughts and ideas organized.  It also gives you a visual representation that may help you make connections you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

2. Once you have a good idea of the overall style you’re going for, it’s time to start thinking about specific elements like colors and fonts. Make a list of 3-5 colors and choose 2-3 fonts that you’ll use for all of your marketing materials. Don’t forget to do your research on color and font associations and continue to go back to your mood board for inspiration. 

You’ll want to include things like the color names, CMYK swatches, and hex codes (the HTML version of color names) in your guide. 

Also, be sure to find out if there is a cost associated with the use of the font or images you use in your marketing. Some fonts and images have specific copyright rules, and you will want to make sure that you are following their guidelines.

3. Your logo is one of the main things that people picture when they think of your business, and it should make it easier for them to remember your brand. It’s a good idea to put your logo and a description of what it stands for in your brand style guide. 

You can put as many different versions of your logo as you want in your style guide, but make sure that each one has a purpose. Outline as many parameters as you’d like, including dimensions and color selection that show exactly how your logo can and cannot be used.

If you haven’t put much thought into your logo design, you will want to check out why that’s so important in our previous blog post.

4. Now you are ready to create your brand guide to keep on hand or as a digital file that you can easily share with others. 

Include all of your chosen colors, fonts, and any other elements like photos, images, or wording that you want to use and circumstances or exceptions for any changes and a detailed list of those examples.

5. Finally, make sure to review and update your brand style guide on a regular basis. As your business grows and changes, so too will your branding. 

By keeping your style guide up-to-date, your branding efforts will always reflect your business in the best light.

Examples of Brand Style Guides

This page, taken from Scrimshaw Coffee’s brand guide, is a great example of how to showcase different colors and logos and how they can be used in marketing.

Njord Organic Restaurant shows just how detailed a brand style guide can be.

To see a wide range of the types of brand style guides different companies use, visit issuu.com.  

Saving You Time and Money

Your company’s style guide should be created early on in the branding process and updated as needed. Having this document on hand will make putting together promotional materials much easier.  It should also make it easier to bring in an outside marketing team if you get to that point.

With a list of your preferred fonts, colors, and styles, you’ll be able to save time, energy, and money by ensuring that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to your design standards. 

Again, the importance of making your business more memorable to customers, and therefore building more trust and customer loyalty, can’t be stressed enough.

If you’re ready to create a branding style guide for your business, our team at IFTS Inc. can help! Contact us today for a free consultation at 412-715-6266!

Is your website ready for the next Google SSL update and how will it impact your business?

Does your website start with “http://” or “https://”?

If it is the former rather than the latter, your website visitors (and your business) may have a large surprise starting October 1, 2017!

According to Google, “Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.”

More simply put, if your site does not have an SSL certificate on October 1, 2017, Google Chrome will mark it as “NOT SECURE” if there are any text fields.

What does an SSL do for me?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates encrypt the connection between the web browser and the server where the website resides. This makes it much harder for someone to intercept the traffic and steal the information, which in turn leads to a safer browsing experience for the average web user.

This is the second step in Google’s plan to force users to employ an SSL certificate. Step one was implemented in January of this year. It marked sites as “NOT SECURE” if they did not have an SSL certificate and accepted personal data, like credit cards or PayPal. This step, implemented October 1, will mark any site with text fields as “NOT SECURE” without an SSL. The final step, planned to roll out soon, is to mark any site as “NOT SECURE” that does not have an SSL certificate.

Because it is so much more secure, Google would prefer to have all websites protected by an SSL certificate. They have reinforced this notion in their ranking algorithm as well, with SSL protected websites ranking more highly.

What does this mean for you?

Your business and your website traffic are at risk with no SSL certificate!

What should I do to avoid this situation?

Talk to your webmaster or the person that handles your website hosting about adding an SSL.

Don’t have an SSL or not sure where to start?

Contact Integrity First Technology Solutions, Inc. (412.559.7177 or si@iftsdesign.com) and let them take care of it for you.

Don’t miss this opportunity to upgrade your website. Protect your clients and your website’s reputation!

Get More Clients – A 7-Point Checklist to Increase Your Website Inquiries for Law Firms (or any other small business)

 

Have you ever wondered if your website is any good?  Better yet, have you ever wondered if Google thinks that your website is any good?  If no one visits your website, you won’t get any social shares or traffic.  Even worse, you won’t increase your Google ranking and get your website on that elusive first page with the amazing click-rates.

Follow the tips below, and you will increase the likelihood of your website ranking higher and generating more traffic.  Here is a 7-point checklist that will help you get started:

  1. Make sure that your website has an SSL certificate

Starting at the end of January 2017, Google Chrome will now alert users that a site is not secure if there is no SSL certificate and the site collects credit card or password information.  They intend to expand this rule to all websites.  Be proactive and protect your online presence with an SSL certificate.  Additionally, Google looks favorably upon websites that have certificates currently.

  1. Put your phone number in large font in the header of your website.

According to Google Mobile Movement, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.  You want it to be as easy as possible for that prospect or client to get in touch with you.  The easier it is, the more likely they are to send that email, pick up the phone or visit your business.  60% of local businesses don’t have their phone number on their website (according to BIA Kelsey).  Make sure that you aren’t one of them!

  1. Include compelling H1 or H2 headlines on your homepage

When it comes to writing headlines, it’s important that you include at least one keyword and format them properly using H1, H2, & H3 tags to tell Google what your page is about.  This should result in Google sending proper traffic to your site.

  1. Make sure that your content is keyword rich and describes exactly what your business does

By having at least 500 words of benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich content to tell Google what your website is all about, you will have a lot better chance of attracting the right visitors.  Remember, content is king so make sure that you have copy that is unique to YOU!

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  1. Include your top 3 practice areas with benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich copy

Try to minimize the legal jargon and speak to the average individual.  Let your site visitors know that you understand their problem and that you are the person to ­fix their problem. A simple trick is to minimize the times that you say “we” and instead use “you” or “your”. Try it!

  1. Professional branding is a must

Your website is your online face to the world and you only have 8 seconds to make a lasting impression.  Make sure that you have a professional logo, strong brand messaging and great looking aesthetics.  Try to build your personal brand into your business.  People trust individuals and like to put a face to a company.

  1. Be impossible to resist

Create a lead magnet (ebook, guide, checklist, etc.) to offer to your website visitors.  Make sure that it will be of great value to them, so that they want to provide their email address to download it.  When you email it to them, surprise them with a special offer available only to those who download it.  Keep the lead magnet short and easy to read.  Avoid industry jargon.

 

To recap, 7 quick wins that you can implement for your homepage are:

1. Make sure that your website has an SSL certificate
2. Put your phone number in large font in the header of your website
3. Include compelling H1 or H2 headlines on your homepage
4. Make sure that your content is keyword rich and describes exactly what your business does
5. Include your top 3 practice areas with benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich copy
6. Professional branding is a must
7. Be impossible to resist

If you found these 7 tips helpful, download the entire 47-point guide from Integrity First Technology Solutions.

 

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