H&M and Zara are both fast fashion brands. They both sell clothes, and they both have a fan base.
But do you know what makes the difference from one another?
Both of them – and every other brand you remember – have successfully crafted a brand out of their business. A persona that you and every other customer can recognize almost instantly.
In this guide, we are breaking down the tips on creating brand guidelines for your eCommerce business.
By the end, you’ll know about the actions and brainstorming you need to make a robust set of guidelines for your brand that all your customers and followers recognize instantly.
Without any further ado, let’s get started.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines are a set of rules, guidelines, or suggestions set by the organization’s management that is to be followed to create a brand persona for customers across all channels.
Be it marketing, website designing, product photography, product photo editing, packaging, shipping, events, and more.
The aim is to create a brand with emotions and specifications that customers and audiences can recognize in a heartbeat.
For example, let’s dissect the brand persona of the Nike Brand.
It has a personality that reflects comfort with athletics. If Nike was an actual person, we could imagine him to be full of life, athletic, youthful, and someone who believes in Just Do It.
What about Zara? What do you think Zara would be if she were a person?
When thinking about it, Zara would be a person – somewhere from Europe, stylish, to-the-point, highly professional, yet creative with the choices.
These unique personas make the brands memorable. And they attain this by carefully creating brand guidelines – working according to them and updating them throughout their growth.
Why are brand guidelines important?
Brand guidelines are important for businesses of all sizes, types, and industries. Here are a few reasons to create a brand guideline for your business as well:
- Consistency – Having clear brand guidelines ensures that all activities under the brand names are consistent. Customers have particular expectations. Consistency allows you to deliver what customers want when they visit your brand.
- Messaging – Going ahead, your brand will surely be involved in many campaigns – be it for marketing, awareness, or a cause. Having a brand guideline also allows you to choose the messaging and how you want to reach your audience.
- Recognization – Brand guidelines allow you to create a highly recognizable brand among your customers. Because they recognize the pattern, the style, the color, or the messaging, they instantly connect the information with your brand.
- Avoid Confusion – When you create a brand guideline, you essentially create a go-to book in case of confusion and conflict. This guide lets you and your team align the creative choices with the brand’s recommendations and build exactly what your customers expect from you.
- Setting Standards and rules – This is for the use of your team. Creating brand guidelines will allow your team to work asynchronously as you start to grow. The team and you will clearly know what is good for your brand and what things should be kept in mind while creating something from a brand perspective.
Uses of brand guidelines
We now know the importance, but what are the uses of the brand guidelines? Here are a few areas where it will come to your help.
- Marketing – Brand guidelines will help ensure any message’s emotions align with the brand while planning and creating a marketing campaign. It will also share a basic pallet of color, text, and design inspiration to work with.
- Development – When it comes to developing a website, an app, or even a product – brand guideline helps in making it align with the brand vision.
- Organizing Event – Oftentimes, a brand organizes events to reach its audience and investors in person. The events could be a simple meet and greet or a full-fledged fashion show. Brand guidelines also play a role in decorating and organizing the whole event as well.
- Product Presentation – Be its product photography and product photo editing for eCommerce, or presenting your products on the banner? There is just one question how to make it stand out and align with the brand image? Creating brand guidelines helps in resolving that query as well.
- Building Customer Experience – Lastly, comprising all the points and more, creating brand guidelines helps build a targeted and unique customer experience.
The uses of brand guidelines can be seen in every small and big decision of the brand. It keeps the whole team aligned and gives them a clear direction to think about.
Now that we know all the importance and uses of brand guidelines let’s start creating your own brand guidelines.
How to create brand guidelines for your brand?
Ask right question
Before you start anything, you need to ask some very important questions. Questions that will help you know how your brand can bridge the difference between your customers and your business.
Here are 15 such questions that you can get started with.
- Who are you targeting?
- What are the pain points of your customers?
- What kind of personality did you imagine your brand has?
- How do you make your customer feel?
- What makes you different?
- Why your customer trusts you?
- What’s your story?
- 5 words to describe your brand
- What is the brand that you admire the most?
- What is the language of your audience?
- How does your logo communicate your brand?
- What is the font that aligns with the brand?
- What are the colors for your brand?
- How does your brand interact with the customer?
- What does your brand voice sound like?
Following are a set of questions that will help you create an outline of a brand that you envision.
From the beginning, start writing down your answers as they come to you naturally, and follow along with the next point.
Build brand persona
A brand persona is a way to characterize your business. It is a way through which you add human elements – emotions, voice, presentation, attitude, and connect – with your audience.
When creating brand guidelines, you must also build a persona – a humanized character of your brand.
What are the traits of your brand’s persona, what kind of emotion does it radiate, what are the kind of people this persona hangs out with, what is the lingo it uses, etc.?
This practice will help you create a brand that acts, think, and organize everything uniquely.
Use mood board
What are mood boards? Mood boards are virtual or real, where you can collect all the information and inspiration to create a brand guideline.
This information can be poems, art forms, people, images, or anything you believe inspires you to build your brand.
Even if it is the most isolated and random piece of work that you like, add it to your mood board.
A few such online tools to create an online mood board are Milanote, Figma, and Canva. Each has its perks, but Milanote is a dedicated tool for such brainstorming work.
Keeping notes is a part of the process. If you believe there is anything that adds to the character of the brand – note it down.
From getting inspiration through your mood board to the things, your brand is to be like, note everything down and create a lot of notes for it.
These notes will act as a translation from your inspirations to the work you want to see in your brand.
By the end of creating notes for your brand, you must have had a bundle of points to share. But before you start to share it with everyone, there are a few steps that you must take.
The first is to summarise your notes. Look at the points that you have written and see if any points can be merged or written in a better way.
This step aims to cut down all the hyped-up emotions and focus on creating something actionable.
This will make it much easier to understand and draw down guidelines that everyone can follow.
Draw down your guidelines
Now that you have summarized all the key points, it’s time to craft your brand guidelines.
Based on all your notes, it’s time to create a logo and its variation, font, and brand voice.
This brand guideline will also involve your brand’s story – how it started, how it functions, and what is the mission and value you follow.
You can now organize everything in a PDF and share it with your old and new team members to follow.
Creating brand guidelines can be both an exciting and important part of your work. After all, this is the foundation that your brand will follow. You must focus on making the brand guideline easy to go through and follow.
As said, these preset of guidelines and creative decisions that you have taken for your brand. Make sure they are clear and are implemented across your brand.
Be it social media, website, or your product photo editing.
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