How to Create a Brand Guide for Your Small Business

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to have a phone call with a woman I know who wanted some design ideas for her new website. As I always do, I began with the question “who exactly are we marketing to?” knowing that the WHO of her business would dictate the HOW and WHAT of her website. In a vague way she rattled of 2-3 details about her ideal client and a loose outline of her business concept and again repeated her question about what I thought she should do with her website. Instead of answering her question I asked if she had ever put together a one-two page brand guide which would tell me everything I needed to know about her business concept in as simple a way as possible.  With a confused look she said no so I grabbed a piece of paper out of my notebook and we began the below exercise.

When starting a business, one of the requirements before launching into any marketing campaign is to establish with crystal clear clarity what exactly your business is all about. Without having a very specific understanding of the “stake you want to claim” in the marketplace, your marketing efforts will be less than successful, which can lead to business failure. As you’re reading this, I encourage you to take out a piece of paper and go through this exercise with me.

Essentials of a brand

Below is a look at some of the essentials that are required when creating a brand guide for your business:

1) Vision

When creating a brand, vision is one of the most important requirements as it influences the future of your business by providing it with a direction. A vision tells everyone you want your business to be in the future, and what problems you would like to solve for the customers. When creating a vision, you can come up with a grand, long-term vision that covers the whole operation of your business or just a simple vision that will cover a single aim depending on what you are offering and who you are offering it to. The vision for your business should be conveyed to the customers in a short and clear statement that is simple, straightforward and easy to be understood.

Check this video to know how to write a good vision statement:

2) Mission

Just like the vision, your mission is another important aspect of the business that should be included in your brand guide. The mission, which is also conveyed in a statement, defines the purpose of your business and tells your customers what they should expect from you. It also plays a very huge role in motivating and providing direction to the employees. When crafting a mission statement, you should consider the market that your business serves, the products and services that you offer, the approach that your business takes when offering these products and services to the customers, and the things that distinguish you from your competitors. Where the vision is the “what’, the mission is the “how”.

Vision statement for Susan G. Komen – to cure the world of breast cancer.

Mission statement – our mission is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering others, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

3) Business values

While business values is a term that is slightly over-used when it comes to marketing, it is an important marketing aspect that influences the perception of people towards your business. Business values define what your business stands for, and it should be conveyed explicitly in your brand guide to help ensure that people understand what your business is all about. The values you select for your business should also be genuine and be conveyed effectively.

Examples of business values – honesty, integrity, creativity, professionalism, innovation etc.

4) Target market avatar

A target market avatar, also referred to as a customer avatar, is a detailed profile of your target market, which describes the customers that your business serves. When creating a customer avatar, the following factors should be considered:

  • Demographics – demographics refers to the average characteristics of your target market. They include age, occupation, income, physical residence, education level, etc.
  • Psychographics – psychographics refers to a detailed analysis of the lifestyles of your target market in order to get their feelings towards the products and services your business offers. Psychographic information for a target market includes hobbies and interests, opinions and beliefs, activities they engage in, trends they follow, and their behaviors. This information can be obtained through personal or employee observation, direct communication with the customers, or through questionnaires and surveys.

The target market avatar helps you to narrow down your target market based on their needs, which helps to ensure that you create a better targeted marketing campaign. This increases the chances of potential customers finding your business and acquiring the products and services that you offer.

5) Brand positioning

When creating a brand guide, a brand position is a statement that clearly states the unique value of the products and services that your business offers, and explains to the customers how they can benefit from acquiring them. The brand positioning for your business should clearly define the audience, the market niche of your brand, the benefits of your products and services, and also, what makes your brand unique from the competitors. As a result, the following factors should be considered when crafting one:

  • The target market of your business
  • The market niche your business serves
  • Your products and services, and the promises you make to your customers when offering them
  • Various things that make your business unique

This video will give you an amazing idea of how to make your brand stand-out.

6) Brand personality

Brand personality refers to various traits that are attributed to a brand, and it therefore describes the various ways that your business brand is able to communicate with the customers. Brand personality helps to personify your business, which helps to ensure that your customers can relate well to you by tapping into the emotional benefits it provides.

When it comes to branding, there are five classes of personalities:

  • Sincerity
  • Excitement
  • Ruggedness
  • Competence
  • Sophistication

These types of personalities can then give rise to several other traits, such as genuine, spirited, efficient, carefree, thoughtful, successful, elegant, reliable, charming, strong, and several others. The personality traits of your business are then communicated through various channels, which include the tone, language, design, and style of your brand.

7) Brand story

With most businesses realizing the powerful influence that stories have on customers, brand stories have become the next new thing in marketing. When it comes to branding, a brand story can be defined as a consistent narrative created by your business, and compromised of both facts and the feelings it exudes. A brand story the ability to inspire an emotional response in the consumers, which can help to make them relate more with your business. The story of your brand goes beyond the written content, and it is influenced by other factors such as the products and services, the history of your business, the quality of services, marketing techniques, prices, and business values.  Why does your business exist? Why did it come to be? Write it all down.

8) Voice

Brand voice is the consistent expression that your business offers through communication and the style of your brand. Brand voice is an important aspect of marketing, as it is one of the main factors that determines the personality of your brand. Therefore, you should create a strong and clear brand voice that defines your business, distinguishes you from the competitors and inspires your audience. The brand voice should be expressed in a consistent tone in all the written copy of your business, including your website, social media posts and messages, emails and product packaging.

9) Design and style

The brand design or style is the visual profile expressed by the brand of your business. The brand style guide is comprised of the business logo, the font size and shape of the written content, the colors on your website and other written material for your business, and the imagery of your website.

Just like with the brand vice, the design and style of your brand is very important, and you should make sure that it remains consistent. This will help to distinguish you from other players in the market, which will make it easier for your customers to recognize your brand from anywhere.

Conclusion

Branding is a vital requirement when running a business, as it helps your customers to perceive your products and services in a positive way. Therefore, creating a brand guide for your business before you launch a marketing campaign can mean the difference between the success and failure of your campaign. If you are a small business owner, the above essentials of branding can help you to create a great marketing campaign that will help grow your business. Click here to get started working on your brand guide, we’ll get in touch with you after to help you out.

Reference:

  1. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31739/7-Components-That-Comprise-a-Comprehensive-Brand-Strategy.aspx
  2. http://thebrand-stylist.com/the-absolute-essentials-of-creating-a-distinctive-brand-identity-thatll-get-your-small-business-noticed/
  3. http://www.visiblelogic.com/blog/2010/04/8-essential-elements-to-a-comprehensive-brand-identity/