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Why You Should Develop a Brand Style Guide

We often refer to “style” when discussing the latest fashion trends or contemporary music hits. However, did you know that this term is just as relevant within business marketing circles? Actually, this makes a great deal of sense when we consider that how your enterprise is perceived can ultimately determine success or failure.

Laying the Groundwork for Business Success

“You can have the most expensive clothes and still lack style.”
– Author and poet Evy Michaels

Similar to celebrities on the red carpet, you want to present your company ‘style’ in the most attractive light possible to appeal to a specific audience. But rather than shoes, jewellery and an attractive plus-one, businesses need to communicate their ‘style’ through logos, mission statements and typography, as well as via the descriptions of the services they offer.

To successfully define a branded style, consistency is key, and this is when the power of a brand style guide will come into play. What does such an approach entail? How can you start off in the right direction? Read on for a wealth of tips and tricks to ensure that your planning efforts will not be in vain.

What is a Brand Style Guide?

In terms of branding, elements such as logos will often be the first to come to mind. After all, we primarily recognise well-known companies, such as Nike and Coca-Cola, due to how they are visually perceived. But this is only a partial answer – your brand is more than a colourful image. The tone and textual style of your content are just as important when you want to stand out from the crowd.

This article by online marketing guru Neil Patel states: “Your brand is simply how prospects perceive you.” With that in mind, two concepts are key:

  1. The ability to align with a specific niche audience.
  2. The successful conveyance of your core company values.

It’s easiest to think of your brand style guide as a type of ‘template’ that is intended to define how your brand is presented to the outside world. From the look of your logo to the language used in your content, this digital ‘rulebook’ determines the ways in which you wish to communicate your values to customers, stakeholders and even rivals.

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Creating a Brand Style Guide From Scratch

So far, so good. We have begun to understand the importance of a brand style guide, as well as how this technique can provide your company with a much-needed sense of direction. However, there is a big difference between appreciating the benefits of such an approach and designing the guide itself. After all, every company is quite different in regard to its identity and what it is trying to achieve.

This is why a more generalised structure should be embraced when first outlining your brand style guide. Once the basics are in place, it will be much easier to identify specific parameters. This Textbroker article discusses the importance of brand awareness, and many of the very same takeaway points can be used when formulating your style guide. Here are some key elements in more detail.

1. Unique demographics

All portions of your brand style guide will be highly influenced by the type of audience you hope to target. After all, marketing a product to millennials will almost always require a different approach when compared to other demographics, such as pensioners or Gen Z financial officers.

Clarifying your buyer persona is, therefore, crucial. Here are some of the traits that serve to define your audience:

  • Their interests
  • Their spending habits
  • Quantitative data, such as age, gender and location
  • Motivations, passions and goals

It is possible to learn more about the link between buyer personas and personalised content by reading this informative blog post. Ultimately, if you are able to correctly identify your audience, it will be much easier to develop a brand style guide that speaks to them directly.

2. The notion of a value proposition

A value proposition is basically another term for how you choose to define the products and/or services that you have to offer. What makes them stand out from your competition? In other words, what is their inherent value? It is important to note that these values should appeal to your intended audience, as they will naturally be more receptive.

Portraying a sense of quality is no longer enough. Your services need to resonate with potential customers on a personal level (such as identifying specific pain points or highlighting how your products can solve a certain problem). If your brand holds inherent value, the chance of closing a sale will become much more realistic.

3. The tone of voice you wish to embrace

As the team at Content Marketing Institute observes, the tone of voice associated with your company can sometimes be referred to as a “brand personality spectrum”.

Do you wish to associate your brand with a certain degree of spontaneity? Are your products more technical in nature? Might it be better to adopt a Hemingway-like sense of simplicity when communicating with your audience? Personality goes a long way towards defining how your brand is viewed by the general public. So, it is important to look at both sides of the spectrum. Here are some examples to further clarify the points mentioned above:

  • Personable and friendly versus corporate and/or professional
  • Fun and lighthearted versus serious and pragmatic
  • Suited for the general public rather than intended for a discrete audience
  • Modern and cutting-edge versus timeless and traditional

How does your brand fit into the metrics mentioned above? Knowing where your company falls within this spectrum will provide you with yet another means to begin crafting your brand style guide. These traits can then be used when creating content and interacting with your audience.

4. Visual elements

Let’s also not forget the very real importance of visual components within your brand style guide. As you might have guessed, these usually centre around concepts such as the logo, the colour palette, any imagery you choose to employ and the physical layout of the website.

These characteristics will help to further cement the identity of your brand. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that online consumers are highly visual in nature. Even Google notes that this type of shopping represents the wave of the future in terms of both convenience and brand loyalty.

In fact, entire articles have been created around the topic of how to create an eye-catching logo that can resonate with your brand. But it’s not just the traditionally ‘visual’ elements that should be addressed when curating a brand style guide – the format of your textual content should also be brand-compliant. This leads us to…

5. How content will be formatted

A portion of your brand style guide should be used to address the technical side of building a strong identity. Formatting plays two crucial roles in this respect. First, it is always wise to present your content in a clear and easily digestible manner. Bullet points, short paragraphs, embedded images and hyperlinks to other authoritative websites are all common examples. This is the ‘visual’ aspect of formatting that is pleasing to a reader’s eye.

Second, the benefit of ‘hidden’ formatting involves how this very same material will be interpreted by search engines such as Google. HTML tags, targeted keywords and meta titles will all influence your rankings within a search engine results page (SERP). Content that has been properly optimised will be more visible to consumers, and as a result, the likelihood of an individual taking additional actions (such as visiting your website) is vastly increased.

Much More Than a Static Template

After having discussed the numerous elements contained within a brand style guide, it is easy to see why some business owners may believe that such an approach should be set in stone. However, this is certainly not the case.

This type of guide is intended to be flexible in nature. After all, the focus of your business could very well shift from time to time. There may also be instances when a new product dictates a novel approach is taken. So, be sure to adopt a malleable mindset to ensure that on-the-fly changes can be made when needed.

On a final note, it is always wise to reevaluate the performance of this style guide on a regular basis. This is the best way to determine if any modifications are warranted. It is also much easier to make small adjustments from time to time as opposed to being forced to reinvent the proverbial wheel.

Brand style guides will provide your enterprise with a sense of direction and a way to attract your intended audience. While a certain amount of commitment will be needed when creating this template, there is no doubt that the rewards are well worth your initial effort.

Picking the Perfect Brand Style Guide Partner

Thankfully, you are not alone in your quest for online success. The experts at Textbroker will be more than happy to provide additional content creation advice. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that your business is always heading in the right direction.

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About our author

Ron is a prolific author who regularly contributes to on-site blog posts. His passion for creativity combined with a client-centred approach has brought him a significant amount of success within this competitive marketplace. Writing for Textbroker since 2012, his hobbies include martial arts and bodybuilding.

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