Why a Brand Guide is Essential to Your Website Project

When business owners think of launching their new website, they often jump right in on colors and shopping for logos. Tiffani Hollis, Heroic Brand Consultant at Epic Creativity, is here to tell you to hold your doggone horses and start with a brand guide.

In every business, you’ll find “THAT client/customer”. I  know YOU would never be “THAT client”, but I want you to envision this all-too-common scenario:

THAT Client “Hi, Web Co! I have a business that needs a new website.”
Web Co “OK. Why do you need a new website”?
THAT Client “Well, the old one is…old.”
Web Co “Ok…Who are your customers?”
THAT Client “Everybody who needs what we do.”
Web Co “And what exactly is it that you do?”
THAT Client “Stuff.”
Web Co “OK…what do you want ‘everybody’ to do when they come to your website?”
THAT Client “I don’t know. Call us? Email Us? Read about what we do.”
Web Co “Which is again?”
THAT Client “Stuff.”
Web Co “OK…let’s talk about design. What color is your logo?”
THAT Client “Green…but not too bright. Not like St. Patty’s Day Green. More Grey-Green. Make that dark Grey-Green. But not too dark and not too Grey…and we want you to tweak the logo. We thought of a clever new tagline!”
Web Co “Sure, what font is the tagline?”
THAT Client “I have no idea. This logo was done years ago and we don’t know how to reach the designer but we want it to match. That is important.”
Web Co “OK [deep breath] Why do you need a new website again?”

Can you see the problem here? This circuitous and unproductive conversation can go on endlessly resulting in a frustrated web developer who doesn’t really know what the client needs and a client who isn’t confident that the web developer can deliver results that will help them achieve their business goals. This results in:

  • SLOW Delivery Times
  • Excessive Change Fees (HIGHER COSTS!)
  • HEADACHES for everyone!

How do I avoid this headache?

Start by understanding what a brand is. Your brand is more than a logo. It’s more than a color swatch, a font, or a tagline. Your brand includes all of the elements necessary to share your company’s message to the right audience across multiple marketing channels (including your website!) clearly and consistently. This can include some or all of the following:

  • Logo or Brand Mark
  • Tagline
  • Color palettes
  • Typefaces (commonly referred to as fonts)
  • Brand Personality / Character / Voice
  • Supporting Graphics and Images
  • Mission Statement
  • Core Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Target Audience / Avatars of Your Typical Customer

Wow. That’s a lot. I’m a start-up. Do I really need all of that?

If you are a start-up with little or no identity, now is a great time to work with a branding agency to build an epic brand that you will be excited and proud to showcase on your new website! Beyond helping you keep your new website design stress-free, the process of working with a branding agency to create a brand style guide can also help you clarify your business model and marketing strategy. Clear business model and marketing strategy will help you spend your start-up capital more mindfully and create a greater return on your investment.

We’ve been in business for years, Can’t you just freshen up our old stuff?

If you are an established business that has allowed time and neglect to dilute your company’s identity over the years, now is time to work with a branding agency to clean up your existing brand or revamp your brand altogether to be more in line with your company’s plans for the  future. This will help you attract new attention, distinguish yourself, and be more competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. Your branding agency will create a brand style guide that clearly communicates expectations to new hires and freelance/contract labor saving you time, money, and frustration.

So before I get a new website, I need a brand style guide?

Yes. A brand style guide is typically a 3-20 page document that includes all of the brand elements we discussed above and usage guidelines. Usage guidelines are visual examples of what is ok and what is not ok to do with your brand elements. This will help your web developer better understand exactly what you need in a website and exactly how it should look. The best part about brand style guide is when your company’s owner’s wife’s best friend who took two art classes says, “Wouldn’t it look better if your logo was neon orange instead? It would really POP!”, you can say “Let’s check the professional brand style guide our agency gave us…NOPE. They say it can only be green – Pantone #2630 to be exact!” Here is an example of a brand style guide we created recently:

Example of a brand book page on color usage

How do I get started?

Get started by scheduling a free consult with a brand consultant to determine your exact needs. Creating a brand style guide for an existing brand can take as little as 1-2 weeks. A full rebrand might take 4-6 weeks or more. In either case, if you are planning for a new website, plan ahead! The first step to a successful and #StressFree new website is creating your brand style guide.

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