Ensuring that you create a specific brand identity and stick with that branding is absolutely vital to having a successful radio station. You want everything that your audience sees related to your station to be consistent and clearly on-brand. This way, your brand becomes distinctly recognizable, which helps increase brand awareness and trust, and inevitably helps you gain listeners. The best way to ensure that your branding is consistent throughout everything that you do is to create a brand style guide. So, to help you create your own brand style guide, we are going to break it all down for you.
To begin, a brand style guide lays out what your brand looks like. As discussed, these guides are extremely helpful with ensuring your branding is consistent. Now, making a brand style guide does take a good bit of time and effort, but it will save you tons of time, effort, and even frustration in the future. Having a brand style guide to reference when you are creating things for your brand in the future makes it a much simpler process for you as well as anyone else who helps out with your branding. You don't have to double check your branding because you have your style guide right in front of you that lays out what your branding looks like. So, you can focus on creating great content with your consistent branding, instead of worrying that your branding is off. Now, let's talk about what you should include in a brand style guide.
1. Logo Specifications
Your logo is a large part of your brand and given the visual nature, you want your logo to be consistent. Create guidelines for the colors, size, and placement of your logo. And, how close do you want other words and images to your logo? Also, think about how you want your logo to appear on different colored backgrounds. Do you want your logo to be transparent or colored? Decide on what your logo should always look like and establish anything that you distinctly don't want to happen with your logo as well.
2. Approved Colors
Select a specific color palette for your branding and note the specific color numbers for identification, including the RGB and HEX codes for digital and CMYK values and Pantone colors for print. Colors can easily be shifted based on the program being used, so recording the codes will help ensure that the colors are always exactly the same. Also, note any tinting, shading, or effects of the colors. If there are any colors that you absolutely never want near your branding, note those as well.
3. Alternate Versions of Logo
You may need to alter your logo a little based on where it is being placed (online or print), so decide when using alternate versions is appropriate. Create guidelines for alternate versions of your logo, including colors, shadows, embossing or embellishment, and rotation. Note where an alternate logo can be placed and any other alterations to your logo that you are comfortable with if changes must be made.
4. Approved Fonts
Just like having certain colors for your brand, you need to have set fonts as well. Decide on a body font and size, a header font and size, as well as alternative fonts in case you are unable to use your chosen fonts. If there are any fonts that you absolutely hate, note that they can not be used.
5. Approved Formatting
While formatting may vary based on what you are creating, noting some spacing, alignment, caps, and other character rules for yourself can be helpful. Also, dictate when bolding, italicizing, and underlining is appropriate. You may not have any specific formatting requirements, so this is a good place to focus on any formatting that can not be included in your branding.
6. Brand Identity
Establishing your brand identity in your style guide can also be helpful for directing branding efforts and can exist as a reference point for you at all times. Include your mission statement, values, vision, descriptions of your brand, your target audience, as well as your brand's personality.
7. Voice & Tone
Deciding on the voice and tone of your branding can help ensure that all of the language that you use is consistent. Note how you want your branding to sound as well as certain terminology that should always be used. Include slang, phrases, and any terms that are related to your station branding. This vocabulary list can serve as a great basis for the voice of your branding. You can also describe your audience here to help establish how branding should sound in order to speak to them.
8. Email Setup
You want your branding to be consistent for your audience, but you also want it to be consistent in your business communication. Decide on how you want your emails to look, including formatting and your signature.
9. Presentation & Document Templates
You may also want to create guidelines for presentation and document templates. Obviously, these templates should follow your brand style guide, but it may be helpful to note any specific requirements for templates that you make.
10. Approved Patterns, Borders, & Illustrative Elements
Patterns, borders, and illustrative elements may not be appropriate for all of your branding, so dictate when they should be used. Note what graphic style (simple, edgy, artistic, etc.) you will use for your branding. Decide if emojis are acceptable in your branding. This may also be a place where you can denote anything that you don't want in your branding.
11. Approved Images
Decide on what you want images to look like in your branding. Note image subjects, feelings, filters, whether writing on images is acceptable, borders, style (bright, high contrast, saturated, etc.), sizing, and orientation. Also, dictate when images should be included in branding.
12. Social Media Usage
Select what social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin) you are going to use and dictate how you are going to use them. You may want to use all of them and post similar content across them all or you may want to post different things based on the platform. However you intend on using social media, note that as well as what messages you want to send.
13. Differences Between Medium Choice
Describing the differences between branding on social media, on your website, in other locations online, in print, and so on can be a great reference point to quickly distinguish what adjustments you need to make with your branding based on where it will live.
With these aspects of branding, use words to explain what the branding should look like as well as what is and is not allowed, but also include images of what you want your branding to look like whenever possible. Having visuals will make it even simpler for you going forward. It is also important to remember that creating a brand style guide is not only determining what you want your branding to look, feel, and sound like, but it is also deciding when, where, and how branding can be used. Also, you may have specific things that you want for your branding and/or you may have things you distinctly don't want for your branding. Noting both is extremely helpful, so anything that you feel strongly about is something that you should include.
Determining Your Branding
We have listed the things that you can include in a brand style guide, but you may be wondering, how do I determine these aspects of my brand? If you haven't thought of a vision for your brand yet, think about your goals and what you want a brand that reflects you to look like. Look at different brands for inspiration, ask yourself questions about what you think is attractive in branding, and think about how you want your audience to feel when looking at your branding. Also, think about your target audience and what they would be attracted to in a brand.
Some of these aspects of branding may not pertain to you, so you can decide what you need to include in your brand style guide. Don't forget to organize your brand style guide for ease of access and understanding. Remember, you can and should adjust your brand style guide as time goes on to keep your branding fresh. Jot down ideas for the evolution of your brand and revisit the style guide at least once a year to see if you need to make adjustments. Again, creating a brand style guide is a lot of work, but it can really be a lifesaver in the future and will lend itself to your radio station brand as well as any future business developments.
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