In the world of small business, there are plenty of details to attend to – so much in fact, that when another “to do” is suggested, the first questions are “what” and “why.” Recently, I’ve seen the issue of the branding guide pop up several times in this very context.
For many in small business, a branding guide seems like a luxury or something that only bigger businesses really need. The truth is both smaller and bigger businesses need it. But, for different reasons.
First, What Is a Branding Guide?
In short, a branding guide is a document that houses in a single file all the particulars of what it is to be “you” as a business. The guide can be as detailed as you like, but the most important details include mission, vision, information about your logo and colors as well as suggested language – from taglines to corporate summaries.
I have a basic formula I like to use in most brand building and brand strategy cases, but I often find that formula changing based on the business and its evolution.
. . And Why Do You Need One?
It seems simple right? Most believe that they’ve already got all of those details here and there. So when a need arises, it’s all easy to track down. After all, it’s a small shop right?
I have seen, repeatedly, small businesses and organizations spin their wheels searching – and searching again – for branding details and materials. Worse, I’ve seen them correct costly mistakes: The wrong file. The wrong color. The wrong words.
Maybe it happens with some new signage. Maybe it happens in that big pitch.
And small shops especially don’t need this pressure. They have limited staff and resources to solve and clean up those problems.
It is worth the upfront time and investment to get it right once – avoiding mistakes but also saving time and resources by developing easily accessible and reusable assets.
OK, So When Do You Need It?
The good news is there are plenty of opportunities that come up when a branding guide can be assembled. While working on a proposal, maybe it starts with a few details collected in a shared folder. At least it’s a start.
If it’s a marketing project or a specific deliverable, I can leverage that work to develop the guide and get more mileage out of the cost of the project.
But, whatever you do, don’t wait until it’s too late. Success and luck in business both favor the prepared.