Whether you’re overseeing the marketing efforts in a large B2B organization or running a startup, a style guide should be an integral component of your marketing strategy.
A style guide is a document that provides guidelines for the way your brand should be presented from both a graphic and language perspective. The purpose of a style guide is to make sure that multiple contributors create in a clear and cohesive way that reflects the corporate style and ensures brand consistency with everything from design to writing.
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Why is Brand Consistency Important?
As discussed in a previous blog post, “The Importance of Brand Consistency”, consistent branding allows marketers to differentiate their product, deliver key messaging, and encourage loyalty by driving authority and trust in their product or business. By keeping a tight rein on brand consistency, marketers can drive customer perception from the onset of the engagement all the way through the buyer decision making process.
Consistency across marketing channels and assets is also valuable to brand recognition in the long-run. Studies have shown that we perceive brands as personifications of companies, and that can affect our buying decisions. We are also more likely to buy from brands we know, because they’re familiar and we’re all creatures of habit sometimes. And through consistency in branding, that company has delivered and met the expectations of the customer (everyone wins!).
Visual Style Guide
Visual style guides are used to define the way the brand will look and to keep corporate graphics consistent and uniform across materials. The rules for graphic style guides typically include applications and variations of the logo, design standards in terms of look and feel (minimalist versus abstract or modern versus vintage), corporate color palettes, and white space usage. This guide also includes typography details (font families, sizes, kerning, and line height/spacing), layout specifics in terms of how elements are positioned on a page, and information on website navigation and visual hierarchy.
A key benefit of any style guide for your organization is that it creates cohesion among marketers in your business. If you were to leave up the visual representation of your organization open to individual interpretation, chances are you would get a very mixed bag of results. A guide will create cohesion, direction and clarity for all marketing decisions in your organization. A visual style guide will help the creation and upkeep of your website, look and voice of your social media accounts and much more from blogs to ads.
Editorial Style Guide
Editorial style guides generally include specific rules around the company voice (active versus passive and first person versus second/third), tone (casual or formal), and grammar conventions (regional dialects, spelling, punctuation, words to avoid, and abbreviations). Many companies choose to follow a specific widely known style guide (such as Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press Stylebook) whereas other organizations elect to build their own individual set of standards.
The company voice plays back into this notion that we, as consumers, personify brands as if they were real people. So, the tone that you’re using across your content marketing, digital and online marketing and even email marketing are all demonstrations your brand personality.
Comprehensive style guides define the company image from a visual and editorial perspective to ensure a unified brand. We recommend implementing both a visual style guide and an editorial style guide to keep branding consistent across all corporate materials.
Consistency creates a cohesive experience that consumers can expect each time they interact with your organization. Over time, this will help build brand recognition and nurture future customers.
If you need help building a style guide or with your marketing strategy, contact Launch Marketing today! Be sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest B2B marketing tips and trends.