Presenting your brand consistently is a good business strategy
No matter what type of business you run, a style guide helps solidify your brand and present a consistent image across multiple media. The style for an industrial business may vary slightly from other types of businesses. People want to know they can trust you, so consistency and reliability become even more of a factor than, say, for an e-commerce store that sells kitchen gadgets. However, some of the rules are similar.
Presenting your brand consistently increases revenue as much as 23%. A style guide makes sure everything from your logo to the font used in your corporate name is the same, no matter where the mention of your company appears.
There are some specific elements you should look at when creating a style guide. One of the best ways to learn how to write a style guide for your industrial business is by studying the consistent appearance of other businesses, so we'll also look at a few examples of style in action.
1. Choose a Color Palette
Think about some prominent manufacturers and how you immediately recognize their colors, such as Ford Motor Company. A successful brand color palette typically consists of one or two predominant colors with some complementary colors here and there. Colors evoke emotions in consumers, so choose your shades carefully. If you want people to see you as trustworthy and steadfast, stick with dark blues. If your goal is to make users feel excited, red might be a better choice. Whatever message you'd like to send, incorporate that into your logo, website and even your fonts, and include the palette and HEX codes in your style guide.
Magna International does a good job of adding a specific color palette and using it in the accents on their page, as well as in the photos shared on their website. You'll also notice the pop of red in their logo, which appears on social media and nearly anywhere else mention of the company occurs.
2. Develop a Personality for Your Brand
Every brand has a personality that harkens back to the founder and their passions and interests. If your goal is to make the world more eco-friendly, reflect that in your color choices and the causes you support, as well as your business practices. When you interact with media and with customers, the personality you exude should be the same. Is your brand warm and reassuring, exciting and fun or something else entirely? Once you better understand what you stand for as a company, it's much easier to put your persona into words for your style guide and use it in all customer interactions, including live chat and interviews with reporters.
3. Know Your Unique Value Proposition
What is the unique value proposition (UVP) for your brand? For example, if you sell boat parts, your UVP might be that you solve even the most minute problems for boat owners. Your UVP should be different from your competitors’ and should embrace what sets your company apart from the rest. If you don't feel you have a UVP, you must develop one. You also need to communicate your UVP within your style guide, so employees are consistent when describing your offerings.
Hard Chrome Specialists does an excellent job of using their call to action to highlight the fact that they provide free quotes. Because they offer something unique and each job is tailor-made, free quotes are a smart way to set themselves apart and customize each experience for their customers.
4. Provide Your Logo
Any well-thought-out style guide includes your brand logo in options for both light and dark backgrounds. Make sure you specify page placement and how to use the logo correctly. The last thing you want is for your logo to get used in an unflattering way that puts a negative spin on your business. Any business style guide should include information on the logo, colors from your palette used in the logo and size and placement instructions. Info on your logo isn't unique to industrial business style guides, but is still a vital part of the equation.
5. Offer Relevant Images
Include high-resolution images of your products in action, as well as quality staff and company shots. It's better to control how you promote your products than to allow amateurs to take low-quality photographs and share them online. By providing images, you give users a chance to share those images instead of less desirable ones. The images should be similar to what you'd use on your website and relevant to your product.
Paragon Store Fixtures uses some beautiful images on their website, which would work well in an article about their products. Note how the images highlight what they're capable of and how their products look in use. At a minimum, set a style for photography.
6. Choose the Right Fonts
Keep in mind that a style guide benefits your in-house staff as well as journalists. When you're aiming for consistency, you want to use the same set of fonts over and over again. Use the same font style on your website, social media and in print. While some fonts translate better in different media, other styles look similar enough to pass for one another. If your website uses a sans-serif font, your printed brochure should use the same. Indicate hierarchies as well, such as a particular size and style for headers and a different size and style for body text.
Style Guides Are Editable
As your brand grows and develops, you may find a font that originally worked well no longer matches your company's personality. It's OK to choose a different font, as long as you have a good reason for doing so. Edit your style guide as time passes, adding to it, changing it and making it reflect your current standards. With a little effort, a style guide helps everyone get on the same page for how your brand presents itself.