A style guide (or brand book or brand guide) is a helpful tool for establishing consistency and aligning your marketing materials.
Perhaps your brand publishes a print catalog and also a blog on your website – your customers should easily be able to identify your brand (logo, colors, typography) across both platforms. A style guide can ensure that your brand is both recognizable and impactful.
What A Style Guide Can Do for Your Brand
Your brand’s style guide communicates your company’s design standards to your whole team. You’ll have consistency between the work of multiple designers since everyone is using the same style guide as the starting point.
Style guides support marketing initiatives by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to your brand’s goals and that all content has a consistent look and feel. This cohesion is important because it helps establish a strong brand voice, which over time, builds trust.
Google is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Take a look at Google’s brand guidelines.
According to RubyPorter.com, a style guide can help your team quickly and effectively maintain consistency when launching new products or services and ensure you’re reaching your intended audience.
What to Include In Your Style Guide
Your company’s mission should be the foundation of your brand guide. Your brand tenants should be clearly stated at the beginning of your style guide. Also consider including such elements as core values, personality, tone and voice.
Here are some examples from some well-known brands:
- Empowering and uplifting – Dove.
- Friendly yet informative – LaCroix Sparkling Water.
- Professional and ambitious – CloudSmartz.
- So far out there it’s in another galaxy – Skittles
The logo and any derivatives should be a main focus of your style guide.
Include examples of how your logo should be displayed in different formats. Include size restrictions like minimum size and how much clear space to maintain around it.
You should also make clear which colors to use and how the logo should appear on different color backgrounds. It’s also a good idea to show how logos should NOT be displayed (e.g. stretched, with drop shadows behind it, too close to other elements, etc.)
Here’s an example:
The logo’s relationship to other assets, like taglines, should also be included to maintain the integrity of a brand’s visual identity during reproduction.
Your brand’s color palette consists of the colors that make your brand recognizable. There are generally only a handful of primary colors for a brand and sometimes a few additional secondary colors. It important to include CMYK color values for print and RBG and HEX values for web. This will ensure color consistency across all media.
Your style guide should also include all typefaces and families, font sizes, and the hierarchy of the fonts your brand uses for print and web. Which typeface (and at what size) should headings be? What about body copy? This should all be clearly outlined in your style guide.
Include imagery examples to show photography style, vector illustration style, icon style, etc. For example, if you’re looking for a particular style of lighting in your photography, it can be helpful for designers to see specific examples.
Additional Elements to Include
It can also be helpful to include such elements as writing samples, PowerPoint Templates, Additional examples and references, like writing samples, words to avoid, etc.
While a robust style guide is a wonderful tool, it can become cumbersome to use. If that’s the case, consider creating an abbreviated version of your larger style guide that designers can quickly scan and commit to memory.
A style guide is essential to keep your brand identity consistent. A consistent and recognizable brand builds trust with the consumer, which is crucial to making sales. While a professional style guide can take time and resources to create, it can make a huge difference in your overall branding strategy, and you’ll find it was worth the investment.