Why do you need a Style Guide?

A Style Guide has one purpose: consistency. It may not sound sexy, but consider this: Organizations that always present their brand consistently bring in an average of 23% more revenue than those that don't. Turns out there's a lot more to consistency than meets the eye.

Fonts matter

It's summer. You're thirsty. You've been running errands in the heat for four hours, and you're only halfway done. Nearing exhaustion and dangerously low sugar levels, you decide to take a pick-me-up break. You duck into the nearest corner store and head straight for the refrigerator. Screw the diet. Today you've earned a can of your favorite sugar-definitely-added treat. You open the glass door, and with the delightfully frigid air streaming against your face, you see this:

 
 

No matter how much you love Coca-Cola, the sight of three different cans would probably upset you. You might think, "Whoa, what happened to Coca-Cola? Are these all from the same manufacturer? Do they taste the same? What exactly am I buying...?" Whether or not you purchase the soda that day, your relationship with the brand has been changed forever.

This is the power of consistent fonts. And fonts are just one piece of the puzzle.

Consistency Matters

As consumers, we don't give much thought to fonts, colors, or consistency in general. But we're deeply affected by it all the time. Consistency makes us feel safe. It creates a trusted atmosphere where we can relax, where we know what to expect, where we make choices without having to think too hard about them.

Inconsistency, by contrast, jars us out of our comfortable state. It makes us double-think what we're buying and puts the reputability of the brand we're considering in question.

As a brand-aware business owner,  consistency is one of your biggest assets. A consistent brand identity:

  • Builds trust between you and your customers
  • Establishes your reputation
  • Conveys your brand's uniqueness
  • Cements your brand's story, traits, and values

Consistency is good for your business. And, as our world seems to become more and more unpredictable each day, a small piece of safety and stability is no small gift to give your customers.

Studies have shown...

In 2016, LucidPress and Demand Metric studied 200 organizations to see if brand consistency really did matter, and if so, how much. They studied a huge range of businesses, spanning multiple industries, organization sizes, and levels of visibility.

Here's what they found (published in their report The Impact of Brand Consistency, a free ebook you can download for more detail):

  • The average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 23%. That's a lot of sales you might be missing out on for no good reason.
  • Brands that are consistently presented are 3 to 4 times are more likely to experience brand visibility. With no extra time or money, you could be getting much more visibility.
  • Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Knowing exactly what your colors are and using them consistently could attract many more customers.
  • Less than 10% of organizations consider their brand presentation "very consistent." And only 1/4 of organizations have formal guidelines that are consistently enforced. That means that simply being consistent can differentiate you from competitors!
  • 71% of organizations saw confusion in the market because of inconsistent brand usage. When it comes to building a brand, confusion is the LAST thing you want your audience to experience.

Like Shakira's hips, numbers don't lie. (Usually.) Now let's talk about how to start achieving that consistency!

 

Enter the style guide

A Style Guide is the basis for a brand's visual consistency. It is a formal document that tells you, and anyone else in your company, how to present your brand to the world's eyes. Sometimes a Style Guide is called (or included in) a Brand Book or Brand Bible.

We like to think of the Style Guide as the bricks of your visual kingdom. Why assemble new bricks from far and wide every time you begin a new project (a business card, a flyer, a social media image, etc.)? It's much easier to have a storehouse of bricks that you know will build the right structure for your brand.

We can help you build those bricks. Sunbird's Style Guide includes:

  • Inspiration Board: A series of images that captures the look and feel of this brand, or provides an aspirational guidance for future brand imagery. 
  • Color: The core colors used to create consistency among all brand touchpoints such as your website, postcards, packaging, etc.
  • Fonts: The core fonts used to create consistency among all brand touch-points such as your website, postcards, packaging, etc.
  • Brand pattern: A core pattern that can be used across touchpoints such as business cards, packaging, & posters, to build subtle consistency.

Wondering what the final product looks like? Here's an example.

 
 

Your branding homework

Think we're the only ones who believe in the importance of a Style Guide?

Read this blog post: 5 Rookie Branding Mistakes Every Entrepreneur Makes But Shouldn't. (Surprise, surprise: my favorite is #2!)

Then go to Pinterest and type in "brand style guide." Don't the results inspire you to join these businesses who clearly took the time to create a consistent foundation for their visual brand identity?

Finally, think about whether you have any questions about Style Guides. If you do, leave a comment below!