She’s got the look. (She’s got the look.)
Does your brand have a look? If not, it’s time to take a cue from the catchy 80’s pop song that just got stuck in your head and get one.

Forget first impressions…

Customers have to be exposed to your brand at least SEVEN times before they’re ready to buy from you, follow you or work with you. Key words: at least.

And just any brand exposure won’t do. Your touchpoints need to be consistent enough that you start to stand out from the crowd. That means you need a similar tone of voice in your writing and, you guessed it, a look.

A look that gets your followers to STOP scrolling, START recognizing your brand, and, most importantly, START taking action.

Be audit you can be.

It’s time for a surprise audit from the IRS… No, not that IRS. The Internal Recognition Service – your brand recognition self-check.

Pull up your Instagram profile and Facebook Page, grab any print ads or signage you have, and go to your website.

Now pretend we used one of those flashy neuralyzer things from Men In Black to erase your memory and you don’t know a thing about your business.

Take a look at the accounts, ads and site in front of you. Do they look like they’re from the same business?

If you saw them all separately – on different days at different times – would you connect the dots and recognize that they came from one source? Would you remember what that business was?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, it’s time for a brand touchup.

Branding is in the eye of the beholder.

The easiest way to ensure consistent visual communication – you know, the kind that gets followers to notice you and become your customers – is through the use of a brand style guide. A style guide establishes parameters that steer your photography and graphic design choices.

Similar to the proverbial thinking cap, your style guide should become a pair of eyeglasses through which you view all of your brand’s touchpoints. Your new brand lenses should keep your marketing in focus so that you steer clear of any design choices that blur your brand.

Get to the GIST.

The first step in developing your style guide is to consider your GIST, or:
I – INFORMATION about what you
S – SELL and who you

Get to your GIST by describing your business, what you sell and who you sell it to in one sentence. Be sure to use words and phrases that reflect your brand’s personality.

Here’s ours:

Biz besties dishing out social media + goal getting training for small businesses, indie retailers and boss babes.

Go a step further by adding a second sentence that promotes the brand’s personality and not just your product or service:

Biz besties dishing out social media + goal getting training for small businesses, indie retailers and boss babes. Juiced up by working hard, shopping harder and rosé.

Decisions, decisions…

With your GIST at the ready, it’s time to set the scene. At the very least, your style guide should include a color palette, typefaces and inspiration images that evoke the emotions you want your photographs and images to evoke.

Start by pulling together your existing brand elements, such as your logo, colors and sayings. Then look anywhere and everywhere, from fabrics and patterns to nature and fashion, for new inspiration that matches your current or desired aesthetic.

As you select each element of your style guide, compare them against your GIST to make sure that the choices you are making reflect the product or service that you are offering, the audience you are targeting and the personality of your brand.

How to succeed in style guides without really trying.

There’s no right way to make a style guide. As marketers and graphic designers, we created ours using a professional design software (WORK//SHOP™ members can see our style guide in this month’s WORK//SHEETS™), but there are plenty of resources that put creating a style guide at your fingertips:

  • PINTEREST // Chances are, you already have a Pinterest account. Simply create a new board and pin away to create a style guide that is easily accessible on your computer and your mobile devices (and your employees’ too!).
  • POLYVORE.COM // Originally intended to be used as a community-powered social commerce site for fashion and interior design, Polyvore allows you to create image collages. These “sets” feel like a more sophisticated Pinterest board.
  • PRINT AND POST IT // Prefer pin and paper to an iPad? Throw back to your school days and create a physical style guide. It can be a simple as pinning print-outs and magazine pages to a bulletin board or gluing them to a poster, or as involved as creating an inspiration wall in your office.

When your style guide is ready, be sure to share it with your staff and anyone else who has a hand in your marketing and merchandising, so that they can make decisions through your brand lens too.

This article originally appeared in the June issue of WORK//BOOK™, our monthly e-magazine for WORK//SHOP™ members. WORK//SHOPAHOLICS™ can read the entire edition in the members’ area of

Not a member yet? We’d love to work hard with you so your customers shop harder. Join the squad>>