Style Guide

Overview

The top companies on social media all have one thing in common: consistency. A strong social media style guide is the foundation for that consistency. As you develop your online presence and reputation, your style guide will define how others perceive you and what actions you may take to keep a coherent presence.

A style guide is also a good method to keep everyone on the same page. Because your marketing team members are human, errors occur, but a style guide can prevent some mistakes and iron out any confusion about your company's guidelines.

You want to be able to spot your favorite cereal or coffee from a mile away while grocery shopping, isn't it?

Takeaway skills

  • Importance of Style Guides
  • Building a Style Guide

We’ll cover the following:

  1. How does style guides help?
  2. How to create an Instagram style guide?
  3. Summary

Template

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1. Importance of Style Guides

It's crucial to ensure that your brand is presented in a uniform way so that customers and prospects can recognize it at once - and this is an important step toward determining whether someone would want to follow you.

Developing a consistent brand begins with establishing a brand style guide. Graphic designers, marketers, web developers, community managers, and even product packaging staff may all benefit from branding rule books since they allow them to stay on the same page and provide a common vision of the brand to the public.

Customer and prospect trust is built by strong, coherent brands based on prior experiences. Now more than ever, being able to establish fast connections is essential as a business is increasingly conducted via digital channels.

An effective brand style guide:

  • It allows your team to represent the brand consistently.
  • Time savings for your content design
  • Strengthens brand connections and brand awareness.
  • It allows you to make efficient and effective changes to your brand.

If you've ever glanced at a social media feed and observed that it appears to be managed by distinct individuals, they aren't likely to have a style guide in place. No matter how many people manage your profiles, every Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram caption should reflect the brand you've worked so hard to establish.

2. Creating Instagram Style Guides

A brand style guide — also known as a brand "bible" or brand guidelines — is a document that specifies all of the rules and requirements that your company should follow.

Defining your brand is the first step in establishing trust - telling the story of your brand, what it stands for, and how it has developed is an essential aspect of defining your brand and its values.

The story you tell about your brand, also known as the narrative, will provide context for and meaning to the visual elements you go on to develop to represent your brand, resulting in a cohesive brand image.

It is recommended to complete the framework - Instagram Pitch provided by Instagrumpy before continuing with Brand colors.

Scroll down to find the link to the above prerequisite.

Brand Purpose

These should link back to the brand's goal (why you do what you do), allowing employees, partners, consumers, and the general public to grasp your business and what you're attempting to accomplish.

Brand Personality

Brand personality is what differentiates one company from the next, creating a lasting impression on - or connection with - your target audience. It's about how you make people feel, rather than simply what you tell them.

Brand personality creates an emotional response in consumers, allowing them to connect with your business and its offerings on a deeper level.

You need to develop this just like you may describe a person and give few examples.

See how Figma (a design tool) does it,

  • Curious — Clever, playful, imaginative. This is your friend with far-out ideas. They always want to be learning more and considering the things that might not be obvious.
  • Vibrant — Dynamic, confident, alive. Figma loves nerding out on certain topics and is proud of it.
  • Honest — Inclusive, empathetic, approachable. We’re never afraid to admit that we don’t know everything, but together we can figure it out.
  • Bold — Powerful, unexpected, non-conforming. We don’t live in the shoulds, we do what is right and true to us.

Brand Voice

If your business were a real person, what would they sound like? And how would they want to be regarded? Some of those qualities might include elements from several of the following categories:

  • Friendly
  • Smart
  • Compassionate
  • Confident
  • Helpful
  • Casual
  • Sarcastic
  • Formal
  • Deadpan or dry humor
  • Young and trendy
  • etc.

Visuals & planning guidelines

After you've established your brand and since most social media sites are primarily visual, your social media style guide should set parameters and standards for any content you post.

Within your style guide, you can outline:

  • Logos
  • Colors
  • Color combinations
  • Fonts
  • Format and sizing
  • Photos/GIFs guidelines
  • Apps & Tools

Post formatting

Some businesses like to use a certain style for sharing links, status updates, or other sorts of postings. For example, Tweets may follow the structure of headline, link, and hashtag. Alternatively, rather than putting all of your hashtags in the first comment on an Instagram photo, your brand might opt to list them within the caption.

Spotify's Instagram updates are usually brief and succinct, with most of them only consisting of two to three sentences, a few hashtags, an emoji, and artist-focused visuals.

Instagram does not make it easy to format the captions in their app, so the best ways are,

  • Use the notes app on your phone to format it.
  • Use any scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer.

Responding to questions

What should your team do when customers ask questions, share your material, or interact with you? Using a style guide to formalize this will ensure that everyone is on the same page and promote cohesion.

When you contact a company, whether it's your cable provider or another business, and ask them a question about your bill, it's the same as if you phoned your cable company with a query. You'd be furious and bewildered if two different representatives gave you contradictory answers. The same holds true for social media. Even if there are several individuals in charge of your accounts, responses must be consistent.

There are various ways you can manage responding (Direct messaging) to your followers and customers,

Style Guide template provided by Instagrumpy has plenty of examples to start you off.

Summary

The importance of style guides in marketing is that it allows a company to have its visual branding. It gives the brand identity and personality, which will help customers connect with your business on a deeper level because they can associate themselves with what you're trying to accomplish through your visuals. Your style guide should also outline color combinations, font usage, photos/GIFs sources, or content ideas for posting frequency.

This content helps immensely when you work with freelancers, external teams, or multiple team members. Just sharing your style guide will reduce countess hours of back-forth.

Check out Instagrumpy's Style Guide template to get started immediately.

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