6 Tips for A Useful and Impactful Brand Style Guide

By Allison Scudder • December 7, 2022

Disjointed color schemes. Inconsistent fonts. Blurry logos. No doubt, you’ve seen this cast of dubious characters before. And you’ve seen them on websites that you probably don’t want to visit again and brochures or other marketing materials you’ve tossed in the garbage can. That instant turn-off when your eye catches this lack of cohesion typically comes from not having a brand style guide. Unfortunately, not every association has one; but regardless of the size or industry, they should. Brand style guides can be incredibly useful and help you further your association’s mission.

So, what is a brand style guide? At their core, these guides are a set of rules that define the overall look and feel of a company’s brand. They also happen to be essential to building an identity that your audience can recognize across all platforms and spaces. Here are the reasons why your association needs a brand guide and some tips that will help make it impactful.


Top Reasons Why Your Association Needs a Brand Guide

Just imagine some iconic logos you’ve seen over the years — Apple, Coca-Cola, Netflix, Mercedes-Benz, Disney — the reason why they’re iconic is because those teams developed and adhered to their own brand style guides. Just because your association may not be a monolith multi-national corporation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t position it with an authoritative and professional appearance — and it all begins with a brand style guide.

Why does your association need a brand style guide?

  1. They define the look and feel of the brand, both for internal resources, your audience and the public.
  2. You need a consistent identity. If your brand appears inconsistent, it can be confusing to potential new members.
  3. They help new team members and external resources (like a new agency) get up to speed quickly on all aspects of the brand.
  4. Consistent branding boosts consumer loyalty. This helps members, potential exhibitors, sponsors and partners identify your association quickly — you want high brand recognition.


Six Tips For To Make Each Element of Your Brand Style Guide Impactful

Since brand style guides help each department stay on the same page in order to present a unified vision of your association to the public, it’s important to follow best practices. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are some areas of a brand style guide that you can enhance for maximum impact.

1. Mission/vision statement
This statement articulates your association’s purpose and it’s the guiding light for the rest of your brand style guide. Make your statement impactful and make it actionable. This will inform all of your content to be cohesive so that all work together and connects with your members. It will help keep your blog, emails, website, brochures and beyond all in a uniform tone.

2. Logo
You want your logo to be memorable, but you want it to also resonate with your particular audience. This can be tricky, so keep it simple; aim for a timeless aesthetic with a high-quality typeface and choose colors that complement your brand’s color palette.

As your association and the industry changes, so can your logo. A full redesign is not always necessary. A refresh in color, changing the typeface, or simplifying what you already have can bring new life without confusing the market. Even Coca-Cola and Google have made small changes to their logos over time.

3. Color palette
They may seem innocuous, but the colors you choose to represent your association should be visually pleasing and combined in a way that follows HEX or RGB color codes. These colors are the driver of your website, logos, advertisements and just about anything else you produce. Think of your favorite football team and what their colors mean to the legions of fans. There’s even been studies on the importance of color in marketing.

4. Typography
Your blogs, brochures, web copy, emails, tagline — everything in the written word format that you produce — all play a major role in the user experience and how they perceive your consistency as professionalism. Choose a clean, easy-to-read font that represents who your association represents.

5. Imagery
The photos and graphics, or imagery, should be relevant to the context they are used in. Pictures are often an overlooked piece of your brand’s identity. . Always choose high-resolution images and make sure there is a clear point of focus that is authentic to your association. They type of images that you select bring the aesthetic of your association to life. Your guide can include details on the type of portraits, scenic views, and stock images that best portray the visual of your brand.

6. Editorial Style Guide
Your editorial comprises everything you write that the public will see, whether it’s a press release, taglines, blog, job description, website, email, brochure and so on. It can also encompass how certain products, people, services, etc., get phrased. So, it’s important to adhere to editorial standards across the entire spectrum of your copy-related projects. You want to not only establish grammatical and punctuation rules, but you also want to establish a clear voice and tone that comes across in everything you produce. This ensures consistency across every channel.


Brand style guides are meant to define your brand, so there’s no one perfect way to produce it. But you do want to create a basis for everyone on your team to work from. The bottom line is that you want to consider the mission and goals of your association when putting it together, so that it elevates what you do and who you serve. Brand style guides will require some upfront heavy lifting to clearly direct the vision of your association’s brand, but they will frame your association as a leader in your industry. If you need advice on your association’s brand, reach out to one of our experts today.


About The Author

Allison Scudder is a corporate marketing specialist at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].