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Blog Post | Jun 11, 2024

Creating Your Brand Style Guide

Unifying Your Brand Identity Through Consistency

Topics: Creative Services, Branding

branding
Whether customers are looking at your website, tradeshow booth or marketing collateral, they should see a consistent look across colors, fonts and other design elements. This consistency will reinforce your brand to all who see it, helping to create a unified message for the public.

At times, this can be a challenge if your company has multiple departments, locations or external partners contributing to the creation of your customer-facing materials. The best way to ensure that all parties communicate the same brand message, look and feel is with a brand style guide.

What is a Style Guide?
A rule book gives graphic designers, web developers, marketers and others who will produce branded materials for your company, a clear reference point, outlining your asset guidelines and ensuring a cohesive and recognizable look and feel.

Key Elements of a Style Guide
Your brand style guide will cover usage rules for your company’s colors, fonts, logo, clear space around the logo and more. It will also provide examples of how not to represent your brand.

Color Palette – The guide will share primary and secondary brand colors, including the color value specifications (RGB, Hex).

Typography – The guide will share the primary and secondary font families and their uses for headings, body text and how they can/cannot be formatted.

Images – The guide will share how best to position and apply photography, filters, illustrations and icons.>

Voice & Tone – The guide will give guidance for representing your brand personality, writing style and language tips so that your readers/viewers see the same writing voice (vocabulary, writing style, point of view) and tone (setting the mood through words and syntax).

Style Guide Best Practices
There are several recognized best practices for brand style guides to ensure all relevant parties can follow and use it. You will want to start with defining your brand’s purpose and values, distinctly articulating your mission, vision and unique selling proposition. You are setting the stage for all potential users to sing from the same songbook, so to speak, establishing who your company is at its core with rules and specifications that explain how to use the guide correctly and consistently.

Be Clear
A wide range of users will access your style guide from content writers to graphic designers and web developers, so make sure that it is clear and easy to understand. The guide should be user friendly and approachable, so take the time to make it a truly useful resource.

It is a Living Document
Your brand style guide is not a “one-and-done” project. It will be used many times as design trends come and go, and your company evolves. It will need regular updates based on changes in messaging, company growth or a rebrand. Tip: don’t forget to include revision dates for easy reference when your team needs to find the latest version.

It Must be Accessible
Because your goal is to make the style guide useful and functional for your entire team, including freelancers, post it in a central location that is accessible by everyone. If they can’t find it, they won’t use it.

Include Dos & Don’ts
To drive home the guide’s specifications, include examples illustrating how the brand should be represented in different scenarios. For instance, you may want to show both acceptable color combinations and those that are not permissible. Other things to include are tips for appropriately using the clear space around your logo and what a wrong application looks like, and correct typography uses vs. incorrect uses.

When drafting your style guide, follow the advice above to ensure that all your brand communications are consistent and on message. By doing so, you will create a strong, recognizable brand identity that stays with your audience.
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