A brand bible, also known as a style guide, is an invaluable tool for just about any business seeking to create a unique voice and personality that sets it apart from the competition.
But what, exactly, is a brand bible, and why do you need one?
A style guide is a document that outlines the essential guidelines of handling a brand. It plays a few critical roles, starting with the establishment of rules vital for creating a brand identity. These rules may include the use of visual elements, tone, and voice used in messaging, and online and offline communications.
It is also a handy guide for employees and vendors like designers and branding agencies. A style guide should answer critical questions, including the correct use of logos, preferred typefaces and photos, and other dos and don’ts.
Your brand bible also serves a reference critical for bringing new team members and vendors onboard.
Style guides are often referred to as brand bibles because of the sheer amount of details outlined within them.
However, there are no hard and fast rules related to the number of pages your style guide should contain. Typically, newer brands have style guides with just a few pages while larger, more established brands have more detailed ones.
Whether you are drafting your brand bible on your own or with the help of a trusted branding agency, it should contain a few essentials. These include an overview of the brand and its mission, rules for the use of logs, preferred fonts, image style and colors, tone and voice, and guidelines for offline and online communications.
As your brand evolves, you can finetune your style guide and make additions later on.
Drafting a style guide may seem like a daunting and challenging task to undertake. In order to help you with this critical undertaking, here a few dos and don’ts to bear in mind.
Before proceeding with the actual work of drafting a style guide, set aside time to define what your brand truly is.
By undertaking this critical step, it becomes easier for you to outline your goals and communicate these to your team members. Apart from that, a clear understanding of what your brand stands for makes it easier for you to make a connection with your intended audience.
To put it succinctly, do not leave anything open for interpretation. A style guide should provide clear ground rules for those working with the brand without curtailing creativity.
A brand bible is graphic in nature, and yours should contain as many examples and pictures of what you want your team to achieve.
Strive to find a balance between structure and creativity. A style guide should be loose enough to encourage play and free thought but structured enough to create firm boundaries.
A style guide should help your team recreate the same style and tone for all your campaigns. As such, it should serve as the primary example of those.
Your style guide should reflect the current status of your brand. Whether you are changing your brand mission, updating your logo, or adding new products or services, your brand bible should mirror those as well.
First and foremost, your style guide should serve as the primary reference material for your team and the other people helping you in your campaigns. But beyond that, it can also serve as an invaluable tool for cultivating organizational culture.
If there is one key takeaway from the dos and don’ts mentioned here, that would be to find a balance between structure and creativity. If the rules you set are strict, you risk stifling creativity. And on the converse side of the coin, if the rules are too loose and lack clear direction, you risk creating confusing messages and an unclear brand identity.
Grace Yacoub is the owner, founder and CEO at Zaman. She recognized the potential to develop brands in Dubai back in 1996. Amongst her first projects were to convert the local powerhouses of Etisalat and NBD into branded entities and engage the nation in the drive for modernity. She has since led projects across finance, family, industry, property, retail and all sectors to convert many of the region’s most important companies into powerful brands.