‘Fake it till you make it’ has to be one of my least favourite ethos I’ve come across during my time working with startups. Don’t get me wrong, I believe this attitude has its merits in certain areas (such as launching a prototype of your product to better understand consumer behaviours), but this belief should not govern all aspects of your venture, which brings me on to my main point of this post.
As a startup one of your chief aims from day 1 is to build your audience and I think we can all agree the best way to do that is by building your brand awareness around a value proposition that meets an unmet need. However – and unfortunately I have seen this many times throughout the years – many companies do not spend the time or even see the need to produce a Brand Book. I’m here to tell you why you should go ahead and create one!
What is a brand book?
Coming in a number of various guises (such as brand standards, brand guidelines, or style guide), the brand book is an outline of how your brand looks and ‘feels’. It is not a strict set of rules intended to restrict your creativity, but rather an ‘ever-evolving’ guide to ensure your brand is both consistent and easy to identify, regardless of the individual or group responsible for each output.
There are a number of elements for you to consider in crafting the ideal brand book for your organisation.
Now some of these attributes others would not consider as traditional basics, but I’m here to tell you that you should see them as necessities in the modern business arena.
- An overview of your brand’s mission & vision: Your reason for being & your aspirational goals.
- Logo versions, sizing & usage: this should also include any icon versions of your logo.
- Colour palette: including the breakdown values for each.
- Typography: Font types and their hierarchy/usage.
- Business card and letterhead design
- Tone of Voice & Copywriting Style: especially in the day and age of social media conversations. It’s very easy where there are a number of people managing these accounts that an individuals’ personality may come through rather than that of your brand.
- Image Style & Usage
Consistency of message is always my first reasoning when explaining the need for some element of brand guidelines. To be fair to startups, many large multi-nationals still struggle at conveying their message in a consistent manner.
By providing the guidance to not only your staff but the number of contractors and freelancers many startups need to take advantage of, you can ensure that your message, values and brand is presented as imagined, regularly and efficiently.
This will not only ensure that the awareness of your brand starts to grow (as it behaviours become recognised), but will also lead to increased credibility. This credibility will hopefully ensure an increase in consumer loyalty, and as such the creation of a loyalty loop and the resulting brand advocates.
Make sure you take the little bit of extra time required to ensure that your brand is always presented consistently regardless of the channel being used. By doing this at the beginning of your startup journey you will ensure cohesion amongst those charged with presenting your brand to the market.
Some Fantastic examples of Brand Books: