Square-Zero : Why Winning Business Decisions Start With Your Brand Guide
Updated: Aug 22
What if I told you that you could have a treasure map that leads you to quick + easy business decisions AND loyal customers... by following the same path?
It's not magic- it's not even a hot new hack - but it's something that is missing from the arsenal of 99% of the small business owners that I work with.
Why You Need A Brand Guide For Your Business
Wait, hold the phone. Before I suggest that you REALLY should give yourself another to-do, let's air those reservations:
You tackle things intuitively because you know your business inside + out.
You move through your day too quickly to stop + consult with some document before decisions are made.
Your business is technical, so It would be a waste of time + effort for a piece of visual fluff.
With a brand guide handy, you can create new content for your business quickly + effectively, say "no" to dead-end projects, and curate an instantly recognizable image that speaks to your customer's emotions - yes, even the most technical among us.
With just an afternoon of your focused attention (and maybe a pizza for your staff) I'll show you how to create a brand guide document that works for you long after you've put in the time to make it.
Hey, if you simply don't have the time but are with me on the value, I've got you (thats a handy link to my email).
How A Brand Guide Works
A lot of the heavy lifting comes from the visual aspects of your brand guide, like your brand colors or your logo. Your customers - everybody, really - are 'visual people' though they might not introduce themselves so at parties.
First impressions are 94% design related + they happen fast!
You have anywhere from less than 1 second to 7 seconds for impressing your customers at their first glance... and they are ruthless.
You see, you are buying your customer's time with the VALUE that you offer. Let's break that one down:
Your visual + written brand communication is an extension of the verbal conversation you want to have with your customers.
Visual cues will INSTANTLY communicate:
Notice that these are examples of the emotions that your customers are feeling upon seeing your brand's content.
Written content will then communicate:
Why should they care?
How will their life be improved?
What can they expect?
Marketing this way is like modern art, but where the plaque clearly states "Title: The best dang coffee you'll get to make your downtown errands a joy" rather than "Title: Brown #23".
This brings us to how you're going to make this woo-woo treasure map brand guide that mind-beams crucial information into our (we love them) attention-taxed customers.
Well, first, it's about understanding your customers + clients on an emotional level.
Think of this part like creating a pretend character to represent a type of customer or client that your frequently encounter.
Maybe it's Active Mom Angelica or Brevity Bob or Youthful Yael... okay, I'm personally a sucker for alliterations, but you do you.
Your profiles should include demographics:
What age group are they in?
Where do they live?
How much money do they have?
What are their values?
What are their interests?
What are their pain points?
Antavo has a great article on psychographics with tons of examples, if. you want to dive deeper into this as a strategy.
Wait, What IS A Customer Pain Point?
People progress into the sales funnel, towards a purchase or commitment, by seeking to resolve one or more of their pain points.
A customer’s pain point is a problem that is deeper than the face-value problem that your product or service solves - it's the reason why they choose to buy from YOU over your competitor.
Develop a clearer understanding of your customers by downloading my Customer Personas Workbook : 2 Essential Tools For Understanding Your Target Audience.
Visual Brand Sheet
So only after you've thoroughly identified your customer's needs, desires, personalities, and if they like to sleep with their socks on or off - kidding - it can be about you. How does your brand show up for your customers?
And since people love people + choose to buy from people over brands, I want you to create one more persona : yours.
EXERCISE : You're going to a costume ball where the theme is Your Brand.
What are you wearing? What colors, textures, or season best represents the theme of Your Brand?
You've refreshed your punch and walk over to engage with a group of guests. How to you enter into the conversation? A joke? A polite exchange? A backflip? Helpfully offer a napkin?
To what do you toast? To happily ever after? To good, clean, fun? To a rockin' body?
Jot down your answers and tease out the personality traits at play here. For many small business owners, it may be strikingly similar to your own personality traits. That's okay - you pour your soul into your brand and it's no surprise that there are overlaps here.
How to make a brand guide
It doesn't matter if you make it digitally or by hand - just grab a medium that you're comfortable with and get started!
Arrange the pieces of your guide like this:
Your logo + your 2-5 brand colors go front and center.
Your brand's typeface - often a bold lettering (perhaps from your logo) and a readable font.
Your company's attitude or disposition (brand personality) from the above brainstorm activity.
Other notes on your brand - Is it more minimal or maximal? Quick-paced or Slower-paced? Brief or descriptive?
Pop in your customer pain point matrix + your 2-4 customer personas from the first section.
How To Use A Brand Guide
This is now your one-stop-shop + certified sieve for all brand decisions or new ideas.
The most freeing part is, now that you've invested in your brand guide, anything that comes your way that does not align with your guide does not need your valuable time + attention wasted on it.
Create fast, easy + quality Social Media content that resonates with your target customers.
Post content as a friend that is directly addressing one of your personas. What would make their decision to come in for a visit or to work with you easier? What are they worried about - or celebrating?
Say "No" now so you can reach your goals sooner.
Saying "no" to extra work (however exciting at first), partnerships or new ideas that don't align with your brand saves you time + energy. Reinvest that potential effort into something that will elevate your brand and get you closer to your goals.
Become instantly recognizable, describable + recommendable.
By living + breathing your brand guide on and offline, new and old customers are trained on the script you provide them. When you remove the guesswork, it's so much easier for a customer to say to a friend, "That reminds me, I meant to tell you about this company I found that personality/value/solved my pain point".
I want you to cut your time + double your clarity so I'm offering my customer pain point + persona worksheet as a downloadable, printable document.
Fill out the worksheets
Create your treasure map to marketing success
I love answering your questions + am happy to have a nerdy little chat about any of the things I've covered in this post. Nothing would make me happier than seeing you grow exuberantly!