blank letterhead and envelope ready for branding

5 Step DIY Brand Review

A DIY brand review is valuable for multiple reasons. Maybe you’ve been in business for a few years, and you’re thinking about refreshing your business look. Or you never got around to getting a logo design for your business, and you’re thinking it’s time to do that. Or you contacted a designer about creating some new materials, and the questions she asked about your current branding made you consider a doing a review.

I published an article, Small Business Branding Checklist, that will come in handy for doing a DIY Brand Review. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Review the Business Branding Checklist (link) and collect samples of as many of the items on the list as you have for your brand. Print out screen grabs of web pages, online ads, social media profiles, etc.

Step 2: Find a big table or room with magnet/corkboard walls, and layout or pin up all your collected samples. I realize you may have an online-only business, and everything is electronic. But you will understand the value of printed visuals in the next step.

Step 3: Now comes a challenge. Step back and look at everything as a visual group. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does everything look like it came from the same company?
  • Are there visual elements that are consistent across all/most of the items?
  • Are there some pieces you LOVE LOVE LOVE? And maybe some you don’t care for?

Step 4: Now it’s time to get more specific as you look at your business materials. Ask yourself the following questions, making notes to reference for Step 5.

  • Do you consistently use the same font(s)/typeface(s) – for your business name, headings, body text?
  • Do you have a logo, photo, or other drawing/graphic that you always use?
  • Do you always use the same color(s)?
  • Do you place your company name/logo in the same or similar location on your materials?
  • Do you do these things across both print and online materials?

Do things consistently in the above five areas, and you’ll be on your way to building a strong visual brand.

Step 5: The final step in your DIY Brand Review is to create a Brand Guidelines document. From all of the previous steps, identify your visual preferences – the things you like and want to keep doing with your branded materials.

Start with your logo and business name at the top, as you like them best. For example, the logo is always on top with the name underneath, or on left/right of each other. Include any variations that you are OK with, like a black and white version, or your logo with and without a tagline you use.

Next, identify the typeface(s)/font(s) you want to always use for: business name, headings, body copy, captions, etc. It’s OK to have more than one font, but try not to use more than 3. Remember that most fonts have multiple variations, like bold, italic, even condensed, that you can use.

Now include photos and graphics you regularly use. Write brief descriptions like profile photo, ad background, product group, affiliate logo, etc.

Next, create blocks of color you always want to use. Add color descriptions for print (PMS, CMYK values), and for web (RGB or HEX # values).

If you get stuck, or need inspiration, below are a couple of sample documents to give you ideas for creating your own brand guidelines.

Revolution Massage Therapy Style Guide
SCORE branding and style sheet

Congratulations! You have created your first Brand Standards Document! Now you have a basic set of guidelines to reference when creating new materials. They will help you build consistency, and increase recognition as you continue to use them.

You can download a PDF of the 5 Step DIY Visual Brand Review HERE. I’d love to see your results – please share what you come up with in the comments, on Facebook, or by email.

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