Here’s what to include in a style guide for your brand

One of the most essential documents any business can have is a brand style guide, yet many don’t have one. 

Style guides contain all necessary information to create whatever your company needs. They are important because they ensure brand consistency throughout any collateral you produce. So, if these guides are so important, why isn’t everyone on the bandwagon? The biggest reason is time. The style guide will save you time by not having to explain your brand design to every designer you work with.

This is how to create a style guide:


1. Specify your logo size and placement

Your logo is an incredibly important part of your brand, and you want it to be reflected consistently along the way. You should show exactly how to use your logo; what it should look like and where it should be placed. You should also indicate how not to use your logo. That way if there is an issue, you can refer back to the style guide. You should also provide variations that are acceptable for other colour usages in your style guide. If your brand has multiple logos, you can condense the pages into a single page or have a page dedicated to each logo.


2. Pick a colour palette and stick to it

Going from designer to designer or program to program, colours can be easily shifted. You should be able to provide exact hex and RGB codes for web use as well as CMYK values and pantone colours for items that will be printed. Be sure to manually check any conversions to make sure they’re accurate, which saves both time and money when printing. A consistent colour theme helps your design. In your style guide, show swatches of your brand colours. Even the slightest difference in colour can throw off your whole design.


3.  Choose fonts that reflect your unique identity

Fonts are another important part of any collateral you produce. Every font has a unique personality and characteristics. When choosing a font for your brand, it is imperative that you choose the one that best reflects the personality of your brand. It is also essential to be consistent with your typography in order to look professional. Often you’ll have many different typefaces each for a different purpose. In your guide, you can dictate what typeface goes where and how to use it.


4.  Select iconography to set you apart 

If you really want to set your brand apart from others, iconography can really help you. Iconography is a form of communication that adds to a brand’s visual language, so a custom icon set is more meaningful and engaging than a simple, generic one. If you include it in your style guide, the designer will be sure how to use it appropriately. You can also link specific sets within the guide so they are much easier to find. Patterns and icons can be used effectively if used right.


5.  Set a style for your photography 

Photography is another aspect that can be a reflection of your brand. Often people can recognise a brand by their photography. Specific styles of photography can evoke certain responses. Photography is necessary for all brands, but if it is important to your brand, you should definitely include it in your style guide. It gives the photographer guidance and something to refer to. There are many things that the business and photographers have to think about before taking pictures. You need to think of what you want in your images, what kind of environment you want your pictures taken in and the feel you want from the images.


6.  Don’t forget about web-specific elements

In today’s time, it is a necessity to have your brand online in one way or another. Your website should feel like your brand just as much as anything else you produce. There are a lot of things you can use for print that will translate well to the web, but there are things that are strictly for online. Each page on your site needs to look related to the next. Decide what information is most important and form a hierarchy to be used throughout. You should indicate what you want your homepage to look like; what to put on it and what not to put on it. Your brand needs to also think about what buttons they would like on their sites and how they should look.


7.  Set your brand voice

Writing style doesn’t always jump to mind when thinking of a brand identity. But, brand voice strongly affects how your audience feels about you. A brand voice is just as important as the brand style. Your brand should sound and look a certain way. Giving the writer(s) you have on hand guidelines for how they should dictate your brand will help avoid sounding off-brand. You should include particular words and phrases that should always appear and also which should be avoided. Be clear to include the audience you are targeting and how it should sound. It is also a good idea to add examples.


8.  Now bring it all together

Now that you know the basics, you might be wondering if all of this is completely necessary? The answer is no. Every brand will need different information. All you have to do is determine what is most necessary for you and go from there. You should also allow for flexibility because change is inevitable. But always save your old versions to refer back to.


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