September 20, 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The 101 on How to Craft a Comprehensive Tourism Brand Style Guide

Many erroneously believe that a logo is a brand. In truth, your logo plays a part in your brand, but contrary to popular belief, it is not the only component of your brand.

So, what is a Brand?

A brand is a marketing concept that helps people identify a particular company, product, or individual.

Marty Neumeier, a renowned branding author, clarifies that “a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”

Think of it as the impression a person has of the ‘total’ of the experiences, ideas, and knowledge about your tourism business – their gut feeling if they want to do business with you. Not the actual benefits or attributes of your tourism product or services.

As a marketing concept, branding embodies your tourism business. Your brand gives you a voice, style, personality, and values, making you more relatable to your guests and other travellers.

Ultimately, a well-defined brand helps you appeal to the right audience and leave a lasting impression.

But, first to craft a cohesive brand, you need a Brand Style Guide.

What is a Brand Style Guide?

A brand style guide is a rulebook that specifies every aspect of your brand’s look, feel and voice.

Note: There is no difference between a style guide and a brand style guide; the terminology is simply a matter of preference.

There are, however, two critical components to crafting a guide: writing style and visual style. These are the building blocks of your brand.

A brand style guide can be a simple one page guide or a multi-faceted rule book.

One page brand style guide

Why are Brand Style Guides Important?

No matter the size of your tourism business, a style guide is vital to ensure your brand consistency.

Without guidelines, brands can distort over time and potentially damage your brand value and reputation.

With the increased use of digital marketing tools and the ease of creating content with tools such as Canva, a brand style guide has become vital to crafting a successful tourism brand.

A brand style guide helps to:

  • Guarantee brand consistency – Effective brands are consistently recognisable to the client/audience. Marketing materials should be cohesive and easily recognisable to help build brand recognition.
  • Set standards and rules – Set rules help to keep the styling simple, consistent and on brand. A brand style guide is not there to limit creativity but to ensure everything appears, well… on-brand!
  • Eliminate confusion – Often, how to use brand elements can be vague. Brand guidelines help eliminate queries and allow for speed and a cohesive design.
  • Supports creatives and inspires – Sometimes, an open brief can overwhelm creatives and intimidate them, especially those new to the brand. Guidelines help set a starting point that can be pushed while ensuring the design fits.

A well-defined and well-maintained brand style guide lets you present your tourism brand clearly. It also establishes trust with your target audience, all while ensuring that all internal team members and external providers are on the same page.

When a brand style guide is in place, every stakeholder within your business – from customer services, social media, sign writers, graphic designers, PR, and website designers should understand your tourism brand and how to implement it in their work.

What Elements to Include in a Brand Style Guide?

1. Brand Story

Before you even contemplate tackling a brand style guide, hone your Brand Story.

Ask yourself these questions…

  • What is the name?
  • What does it stand for?
  • What inspired you to get started?
  • What did you get started with?
  • How has it evolved?
  • What are your brand values?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • What is your brand purpose or mission statement?
  • What elements make your tourism business entirely unique?

Answer these questions, and you will form a compelling brand story to help you hone your brand style guide. Plus, it will help you develop an emotional connection with your brand, making it a far more meaningful tourism experience for guests.

2. Logos

A logo is the most recognisable element of your tourism brand, making them integral to your brand identity.
With that in mind, when crafting a brand style guide, specify:

• Approved versions

  • Approved colours
  • Spacing and size requirements
  • Design dos and don’ts

By including these guidelines, all stakeholders understand your brand’s visual messaging.

3. Typography

For your visual branding, you’ll need to select a brand font for

  • titles
  • subtitles
  • body text
  • quotes
  • and highlighted text.

Outline the font families, desired size, spacing, and weight and their relation to each other with examples.

Pro Tip
Remember that some fonts may not be available on all marketing channels. To combat this, ensure the fonts you choose translate across web and print content, emails, internal communication, or social media.

4. Colours

Every brand should have a colour palette they use when developing their visual presence. Brand colours are a powerful way to tie your content together, increase brand awareness, and establish your brand presence.

The fewer colours you have, the easier it is to keep branding consistent. You may choose a set of primary colours across all marketing and promotional materials and a secondary palette as accents.

Show sample swatches and list colour codes for CMYK, RGB and Hex.

  • CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) and is the ink colours used during the printing process.
  • RGB refers to Red, Green, and Blue and are the colours of light used by your monitor to display your document on-screen.
  • Hex is the code used for web design and is an ‘alternative’ to the RGB code. They are the same but come in different forms.
Style Guide - Colour Pallete layout

5. Imagery

Include a section in your brand guidelines on imagery – what to use and avoid. Ensure that all of the images used in your marketing feel consistent and on-brand.

Outline which overlay colours and backgrounds are best, what the ideal photography styles are, and how to use photographs in combination with the other visual elements of your brand.

Ensure that all photos stay on-brand by outlining how they should be scaled, composed, and cropped.

Pro Tip – Sync in with your regions branding
Tourism marketing is unique in that you may not only be promoting your products and services but also your location or region. Therefore, it’s a savvy tactic to check on your region’s brand style guidelines and incorporate them into your branding. They’ll already have crafted a highly developed style guide, most possibly with the dos and don’ts of the imagery they want to portray their brand.

SA Tourism Brand Image Guidelines

6. Iconography

Icons are language independent and easy tactic to convey a message visually. They help users quickly navigate messaging.

Iconography can appear throughout your tourism brand messaging, from your website, email marketing, and social posts to brochures, menus and other collateral. It should be easy to understand and consistent with your brand’s many other design elements to create a unified look across all communications. Icons are a perfect tool in an industry filled with international speakers since no translation is required.

7. Brand Voice

Your brand voice is crucial in creating consistent messaging across your marketing efforts and shapes how your audience perceives you. Also defined as ‘tone of voice’, this is where your tourism brand’s distinct personality should be evident.

Specify in your Brand Style Guide:

  1. Message architecture – Explain your brand in a few words, i.e. is your brand friendly, traditional, proactively transparent, playful, disruptive, or eco-friendly?
  2. Vocabulary to use – Advise what words to use – the more, the better!
  3. Vocabulary to avoid – This is just as important as vocabulary to use.
  4. Grammar rules – Depending on your audience, do you use Australian English, American English or UK English (seriously, who thought we’d have to clarify English!)?

When your brand has a distinct voice, you tend to make a stronger emotional connection with your audience. So, define your ideal messaging tone in a few words and include examples of communication that match your desired voice. Each rule should be able to reflect an understanding of the intended audience and the reason for communicating.

8. Resources and Tools

Add a list of brand collateral (a media file already created to promote your brand) and a link to a centralised assets library – a simple link on your website called Media File, Dropbox file or other shared file system.

Brand Evolution

Your brand style guide is a living document, so be flexible as your brand will evolve over time.

It’s crucial that once you have created your brand guidelines, they don’t just sit around and collect dust. Not only should everyone on your team have access to it, but they should also be utilizing it as a reference for all marketing communications.

Conclusion

Your brand style guide is the ultimate rulebook and an essential toolkit to help you present a consistent, cohesive tourism brand to the world. If you need further help, please reach out.

Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a marketing strategist specialising in wine + tourism marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 12 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, strategic planning, and training. With over 80 customised websites built to date, successful event marketing and new business launch campaigns, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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