5 Tips for Creating Brand Guidelines to Differentiate Your Small Business Branding

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Creating a brand strategy is one of the first steps to building a new business. From your logo to the language you use in marketing materials, your brand is the image that you put out into the world. Clear-cut brand guidelines let you maintain consistency and professionalism so that you can tell your company’s story across multiple platforms.

Brand identity guidelines are an instruction manual to help employees communicate your values and mission. Develop and print a brand manual that shows off the unique elements that make your business stand apart.

When employees embrace your brand identity, it creates reliability for customers. And when customers recognize a consistent tone and style at your company, they're more likely to become loyal, repeat clients.

Use these five tips to create brand guidelines that reflect your company’s image:

1. Start with a mission statement

Developing a focused mission is critical to small business branding. Keep your mission statement straightforward and specific. It should answer these four questions:

  • What is your brand about?
  • What unique offering do you provide to customers?
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • What sets you apart from the competition?

For example, JetBlue’s mission statement is bigger than just providing affordable airline travel and pleasing shareholders. Their mission is to “Inspire humanity - both in the air and on the ground. We are committed to giving back in meaningful ways in the communities we serve and to inspire others to do the same.”

2. Establish your company’s core values

You’ve solidified your mission statement— now it’s time to expand on that idea. Core values support your mission statement with goals that you want your business to achieve.

Conceptualize three to five values that are clear, timeless and actionable. These are things like giving back, transparency among leadership and meticulous accuracy. While specific values are different for every company, they should all:

  • Promote teamwork and a positive work environment
  • Be adaptable to change
  • Encourage growth
  • Reflect your passion

Core values have a strong influence on a brand’s image and the way customers view it, so don’t rush this step.

3. Adopt a tone of voice

Every brand has its own personality, and your brand identity should shine through in every aspect of your business. Look back at your core values for inspiration—factors like trustworthiness and loyalty call for a different tone than humor and creativity.

Also, think about your target audience. Are you branding your product to retirees? Teenagers? Working professionals? Adopt a distinct tone that appeals to your audience and keep your voice consistent across all platforms, including your website, social media and marketing materials like printed brochures.

4. Design a look and feel

A logo is an essential element of business branding. It’s often the first thing customers associate with your brand. Craft a logo that reflects your mission statement, core values and tone of voice. One design tip is to develop variations of your logo for different uses, like a horizontal version for your website and a square or stacked version for social media. You might also consider a set of icons to illustrate various features of your brand. Your brand guidelines should document how your logo and other design elements should (and shouldn’t) be used, like background colors they can be paired with. 

customer reading a brochure

Additionally, think about the kinds of photography that align with your brand personality. In your brand standards, provide examples of imagery that best fit your brand. For example, if your brand is modern and innovative, you may select simple images with technology at the forefront while a nostalgic, creative brand may choose soft and muted colors with a focus on people.  

5. Elaborate on the details

This final step brings your brand to life. A uniform set of colors, fonts and images help shape how your customers see your business. Each aspect should echo your mission statement and core values. Be specific with these fine points and, once finalized, don’t stray from them.

Now that you’ve got a solid set of brand identity guidelines to get your business off the ground, your next steps should include:

  • Designing and launching your website
  • Promoting your company through online and social media ads

If you need some inspiration, our design studio offers dozens of templates and examples to help you design brochures, posters, flyers and promotional postcards that leave an impression.

Brand guidelines are the backbone of any business, and these five steps will help your company start off on the right foot. We understand the importance of business branding to help your company get noticed. Our small business center has the tools you need to create a brand that leaves an impact and takes the industry by storm.

The information on this page and links provided are as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by FedEx of any of business, products, services, or opinions of any other corporation or organization or individual. FedEx bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site or for that of subsequent links. It is important to do your own analysis based on your business needs before using any third-party products or services. Any actions you take upon the information on this page is strictly at your own risk.


 

The information on this page and links provided are as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by FedEx of any of business, products, services, or opinions of any other corporation or organization or individual. FedEx bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site or for that of subsequent links. It is important to do your own analysis based on your business needs before using any third-party products or services. Any actions you take upon the information on this page is strictly at your own risk.