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One of the most exciting steps to launching a new business is choosing your name and logo. Deciding on a font, graphics and colors that faithfully represent you and your products or services can be a difficult task, but once you land on the perfect design you’ll want to promote it everywhere.

Consistency is key when building a brand, and it’s never more important than when first establishing your business. Without proper guidelines in place, you risk diluting your message once you start using your name—or tagline, graphics and other visual elements—in a variety of media, especially if you’re relying on outside agencies for help. Even well-meaning third parties can do unintentional damage to your name recognition or reputation if they promote the wrong information, or when they use your logo in a way you never intended.

Creating a simple branding guide will keep your brand on track and minimize confusion for consumers, agencies and any nonprofit organizations or fellow businesses you may choose to partner with down the road.

Why is consistency so important?   

While writing an exhaustive list of marketing rules is likely low on the priority list for a busy new business owner, setting standards right from the beginning will provide a strong foundation for the years to come. If you use consistent branding, consumers will better remember your name, your associated colors and your core messaging, making them more likely to think of your business first once they have a need for your services.

Additionally, any marketing and design groups you contract will have a better understanding of your brand before starting any work, eliminating the need for a learning curve and ultimately saving you time any money. Branding consistency will also help nonprofits or business partners use your name and logo correctly, ensuring more effective cross-promotion.   

What is a branding guide?

Branding guides are documents containing guidelines and specifications for the use of a business’s name, logo and other information. The vary in length and complexity based on the needs of the company, but defining the basics in an official document is a best practice for any industry.

Nearly every major corporation has some sort of branding guide, and some of them are even readily available online. A quick Google search will yield several pages of examples.

What should I include in my guide?

For a small business, a single page PDF should be sufficient. You’ll want to include all of the applicable information below:

  • Naming Guidelines: How do you spell your business name? What is the proper usage of punctuation and capitalization? Is there a trademark or copyright that must be included?
  • Logo Guidelines: How large or small can your logo be? What colors should be used, in both web and print applications? Should users refrain from placing your logo over certain colors or backgrounds? Are there multiple versions or layouts that can be utilized? If you used a graphic designer to create your logo, they may be able to help you with this section.
  • Fonts: Do you have a preferred font for your marketing materials? Be sure to use something simple and standard.
  • Taglines: Do you have approved taglines? How should they appear with the logo?
  • General Information: How do you define your business and what you do? Include a paragraph or two of approved messaging that can be used whenever a simple description is needed.
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Using visual examples is key – Don’t bog users down with excess text, and be sure to list your contact information for any questions. The finished document can be posted on your website, or provided directly to employees, business partners, printers and anyone else who may need to use your name or logo.

Even a basic guide that includes just the information above will go a long way to help you build consistent, memorable branding for your business.

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