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style guide & brand audit checklist for your business

Style Guide Brand Audit

A style guide is an important document for your business. It is essentially a rulebook that explains how a business should present itself visually through its logo, fonts, colours, photography and so on. It is an essential reference tool that helps you maintain consistency with your branding and marketing efforts. Think of it as an extension of your brand’s personality or brand story.

Your brand or brand story is more than just content and narrative. Everything you do, every element of your business is part of your brand story and should reflect truth about your brand to your audience. If you want to build a successful business with a brand that brings loyalty – you must start with your brand story first. From here you can expand to the key elements of your style guide and truly create the ultimate marketing strategy for your business.

Let’s take a closer look today as we work through our free "Style Guide & Brand Audit Checklist" for your business.


BRAND STORY

Mission Statement
A mission statement is a brief description of the fundamental purpose of a business. Why does your business exist? What does it do? It often includes a general description of the business, its function and objectives.

Vision Statement
A vision statement is different to the mission statement as it should focus on the future direction of the business. Where does your business aspire to be once it’s achieved its mission?

Core Values
Core Values are also known as corporate values or company values, are fundamental beliefs upon which your business and its behaviour are based. They are the guiding principals that your business uses to manage both its internal affairs and also its relationship with customers. Questions such as: What core values will resonate with our customers? What principles should guide our choices? What do we want our business to be known for? How will our values distinguish us from our competitors? What qualities do we value in our employees?

Target Audience
Who is your target market? What needs, challenges and frustrations do they have? How does your company solve this problem? Understanding your target market is very important as it sets the tone and direction of your marketing efforts. Many businesses create a ‘customer avatar’ for their business. A customer avatar is a more focused approach to viewing your target market and technically profiles your ideal customer. It focuses on one person and outlines everything about them which assists in your targeting strategy.

Brand Personality
A brand’s personality can best be described as a set of human traits associated with a brand. Think about how your brand wants to be perceived by your target audience – how does it want to make them feel? Who is your brand as a person?

Language Styles
Think about words you want your brand to be connected to – professional, trustworthy, integrity, honesty – this can help create the foundation for your language styles. Here we are referring to tone, spelling and punctuation, numbers, capitalisation, lists and so on. What are you saying, how you are saying it and is it consistent? This applies to everything from advertisement headlines, the tone of your press release, to the way your marketing and web material is structured.


STYLE GUIDE

Logo
Your logo is the core of your brand identity and is the first thing people will remember about your brand. It’s important to highlight how you would like your logo to present online and in print. You should state how your logo is to be used, from placement to acceptable alterations. Note colours, size variations, preferred layouts and incorrect usage. We highly recommend you have your logo set by a professional graphic designer, to ensure you have all formats required for web and print when needed.

Colour Palette
It’s important to highlight your selected colours for web and print. Pantone, CMYK, RGB, HEX - this keeps your colours consistent and limits variations. Not only specify each colour but also how it should be used. This includes not only logo colours but secondary colours to be used in other design elements. Read more in our blogs – “rgb, cmyk and spot colours” and “why do my colours print differently to the colour I see on my screen”.

Fonts
Set a font for your business that reflects your brand personality. List which typefaces are acceptable, how each is used, and guidelines for additional styling, size and use of colour. Fonts are essential in creating consistency and making your typography look professional. Set standards for fonts for headers, sub-headers, body fonts.

Photos & Imagery
If images and photography are a large part of your brand, it may be a good idea to state your photography style in your style guide. How your images are collected, edited, used. What type of images are acceptable?


MARKETING

Here we are talking about applying your brand and style guide throughout your business. Is everything consistent?

Website
Your website is really the face of your business and needs to reflect your brand perfectly. Everything we have discussed today needs to be portrayed on your website.

Social Media Accounts
Do your social media account banners, profile images and content all reflect your brand?

Email Signatures
Make sure that all staff in your business are using the same email signature. This should be common practice as it is just another way to ensure your brand is being represented to the market in a consistent manner. Read more in our blog “8 tips to creating professional email signatures”.

Print Collateral
Using a professional graphic designer is so important when designing and printing your marketing materials. Style guides are particularly helpful if you are working with a new designer or print company for the first time. Most of the information contained in the style guide is must have information for a graphic designer working on a design piece for your business. Items within the business such as business cards and business stationery, marketing brochures and flyers and signage all play a part in keeping your brand consistent.

Other Internal Documents
Here we are talking about internal documents that still play a critical role in reflecting a professional brand. Items such as order forms, invoices, contracts, price lists, timesheets – any form or document used within the business. Do these also follow the guidelines stated in your style guide?

Take the time to sit down and review your brand story and style guide as this can make a big difference to your business, your brand and how you are perceived in the marketplace. Good luck!