Create a Brand Guide to Cement Your Style
Make your site instantly recognizable to users!
If you’ve ever browsed the web for design trends, you know there are all kinds of different styles to peruse. The “modern” tag is broad, with styles like geometric, dark luxury, popping colors, and many, many more. That’s not to mention the variety in those styles – colors, font and font styles, image treatment, and more all play a part too. Having a standardized brand guide is immensely helpful, especially if you work in a team or want to hire out another developer (like Mr. WPress!).
Tone and Personality
The most crucial part of your brand guide, and a decision that will bleed through to affect the entire project, is your company’s voice. What’s your mission, and how are you planning to get there? Who are your customers, and how do you talk to them? These are crucial questions that influence the entirety of your brand guide, from colors to images.
These are fairly abstract concepts, and will vary wildly depending on what sort of company or website you’re running. As such, it’s not all that useful to provide general pointers. Instead, we recommend taking your time to answer these questions. Think deeply about your company’s identity, even sleep on it if you need to. If you need a starting point, try to think of personality traits to describe your business like you would describe a person. This will help you not only identify the voice you’re looking for, but can even end up influencing your mission statement.
Really not sure where to start? Walmart has a straightforward brand guide that can serve as a good place starting point to find inspiration and guidance.
Once you’ve got the site’s identity down pat, it’s time to focus on more tangible elements. First up is colors! There’s tons of research into how different colors and color palettes can influence people’s moods, so a quick study session can go a long way to finding colors that match your brand’s personality.
But even outside of those broad strokes, there are a lot of different shades of the same color. Here’s a set of general tips to help you get started:
- Complementary colors are good, but choose a few that contrast, as well. These are great for calls to action or other elements that you want to bring attention to.
- Don’t make every color bright and bombastic, but choose a few more calm and subdued options too. This helps you to use the full expanse of your palette and opens up more combinations that work visually.
- Different shades and color tones can go a long way to changing a color’s emotional impact. Don’t give up on a color just because it doesn’t immediately fit your site’s personality.
As a repeated tip, don’t rush any part of this process! Take time to think through your choices, get additional feedback, and come to a decision you can explain and stick with. There’s no harm in reaching out to somebody with more experience or an eye for design.
Text and Font
Another crucial factor is the text and font of your website. This doesn’t mean the actual words of your site, but how those words look. Do you want a flowing and elegant serif font, or a straightforward and solid sans-serif? Are you going with a domineering font to take over the page, or a more subdued font to complement the images? Do you want to follow a standard font size pattern, or create more jarring contrasts?
While these decisions may seem like minutia, it all serves as an opportunity to enforce your brand in your customer’s eyes. There are enough combinations of different aspects of font that you can land on a treatment that’s largely unique. Then, when a user sees that font, they’ll associate it with your brand or site. These mental connections are powerful, and are also a great way to foster brand loyalty and trust. It shows that you took the time to pay attention to even the smallest detail on your site. If you have that much care for your site, how could you not have the same care for your user’s experience?
Images and Videos
Just like with colors and fonts, it’s important to make sure your visual assets are in line with your brand standards. It’s easy to convey emotion with an image. If you’ve got your own assets or models, you can edit them to convey the emotions that match your brand. Do you want happy, smiling faces? Or do you want stoic, authoritarian expressions? While there is room for nuance, the broad strokes need to be set first. If you’re choosing stock photos, be very selective to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
However, even if the image you’re working on doesn’t include people, be sure to keep your brand in mind. A simple product shot can easily come off as clinical or detached if they’re shot at standard angles and in a standard layout. Adding a little variety, like mixing up the positioning or adding even a light background, can go a long way to helping you differentiate yourself.
It’s hard to know where to place the logo in this list. Sometimes the logo is the starting point, the image that blazes the path for the entire site and brand guide. Sometimes the logo doesn’t come until the end, when every element that makes it up having a solid foundation in other work. No matter the case, the logo should be the quintessential embodiment of your brand. That may sound extreme, but there’s a reason so much time and money go into creating these little icons. Even if it may only feature in the top corner of your website, don’t ignore it! Your very brand depends on it.
Need help with any aspect of designing your brand guide, or need somebody who knows the importance of working in its guidelines? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Mr. WPress for a free quote!