Breed Confidence through Consistency

Authors: Melody Edwards, Creative Director, and Claire Riggs, Managing Partner

Nothing breeds confidence like consistency. From the time we were children, we learned to trust people who reliably showed up for us. After being caught once or twice, we grew fearless when tossed in the air by a loving and dependable caregiver. When you can count on a product or service to deliver what it promises, you also readily trust it. Brands build confidence through reliable conduct and behavior. Designers and content writers help brands achieve this outcome by consistently applying standards, the brand’s specified look and style, in all its traditional and digital communications.

Having a brand and a style guide builds confidence in your communications.

Products and services become “brands” through strategic messages and distinctive designs that tell audiences who they are and what they promise to deliver. These messages, designs and promises share how a brand’s products and services make the world a better place and how it’s different from its competitors. The brand has an identity that includes its mission, values, culture, and commitment to community. A brand breeds confidence when it consistently expresses its identity. It shows up the same today as yesterday, strengthening the audience’s recall and understanding of its intention.

According to 99Designs, your brand identity can be thought of as your company’s personality. “It’s how the world recognizes you and begins to trust you. If you see someone change how they look and act all the time, you won’t feel like you know who they are, and you certainly wouldn’t trust them.” Communicators use tools such as brand and style guides to ensure consistency in expressing a brand’s identity.

What is a brand guide and a style guide, and how are they different?

A brand guide ensures you consistently “look” the same and a style guide ensures you “sound” the same no matter who is expressing your message or whether it’s being shared traditionally or digitally. A brand guide focuses on your brand’s visual identity and includes rules for how your logo can be used (typography, color, visual tone, and more). A style guide focuses on the brand’s content and how it applies grammatical nuances. Masterclass describes it this way. “While both documents lay out your company’s identity guidelines, a brand guide focuses on the overall look, feel, and visual identity. In contrast, a style guide focuses on writing and editing copy.”

Why create brand and style guides?

The Masterclass article highlights three benefits of having such documents. They help maintain brand consistency, ensure brand quality, and encourage deliberate decisions. In a high-paced, deadline-driven creative environment, these documents take the guesswork out of the process and build confidence in your team’s verbal and visual brand application.

We’ve recently supported rebranding efforts for school name and mascot changes, which included creating new logos. A brand guide accompanies each of these projects to ensure consistent application of the logo on digital assets such as website and social media ads and on traditional assets such as signage, apparel, and promotional products. In addition to outlining official design elements, one-color, two-color and full-color applications for apparel, web, and print, and minimum size requirements for legibility, the guide also describes and visually expresses unacceptable logo uses and positioning. It removes doubt by taking the guesswork out of the decision-making process. It builds confidence with your team and your audiences.

A style guide seeks to achieve the same by nailing down your brand’s sound. We routinely create strategic message planners for brands. These help us define a brand or campaign’s clear messages, including selecting a descriptor and tagline. Something as simple as how you use capitalization or punctuation in your copy impacts trust when not applied correctly and consistently. Ensure your brand’s ambassadors know what’s expected when sharing messages, including your social media team. For brands who use industry-specific speak, Social Sprout even suggests the creation of a social media style guide to keep posts on-point. “As you continue to grow online and in your chosen industry, your style guide will determine how you want people to identify you and what you can do to maintain a cohesive presence. A style guide is also a sure-fire way to keep your team on the same page. Social team members are only human, so mistakes happen, but a style guide can save you from some slip-ups and iron out any confusion about your brand’s dos and don’ts.”

Keep the trust growing!

Just as a child tossed into the air counts on you to consistently catch them, depend on your brand and style guides to keep your look and sound connected to your brand identity and personality. Consistency in your visuals and messages will breed confidence and keep trust growing with your audiences.