Put simply, a style guide helps to ensure a consistent brand experience for your customer. It means that no matter how, when or where a customer comes into contact with your business, they are experiencing easily identifiable graphics, a familiar tone of voice and coherent characteristics. It’s this consistency shown across every touchpoint, whether that is online, in a magazine, over the phone or in person, that helps turn a business into a recognisable brand.
Consistent branding enables a business to own their product, deliver key messaging and encourage loyalty by driving authority and building trust.
Without trust, a brand cannot gain value in the mind of the customer, or cement its position in the market.
Why is a style guide important?
A basic style guide will confirm the elements of your brand including your brand identity, typography and colours. A more comprehensive style guide will cover attributes such as tone of voice, style of photographic imagery, your brand’s history/values and other guiding principles or details.
The length of the document depends on how much content you have and how specific you need your style guide to be. For larger companies, a longer, more detailed style guide may be needed to fully encompass all of the branding elements and messaging. For smaller companies, a simple one-page style guide may be all that is needed.
The common components of a brand style guide include:
At a minimum, your company should have a style guide that outlines your brand identity. This guide shows any of the primary and secondary logos that your company uses, along with colour breakdowns in Pantone, CMYK (for print), RGB (for screens), and HEX codes (for web). This is extremely useful for designers, web developers and printers in maintaining how the brand identity should look across all mediums.
Elements that might be articulated include:
- Primary Brand Identity
- Any secondary logos or monograms
- Sizing (minimum size, size in relation to other elements)
- Placement or clear space
- Examples showing incorrect use of the logo
It’s important to have access to all your colour breakdowns to ensure your brand colours always look consistent. Colours require different values and settings on various printing processes and devices. Letting software convert colours for you can lead to brand inconsistency, so it’s important to have the specified values for each usage.
These might include:
- Primary/secondary/tertiary colours
- Limited/single colour versions of the logo (e.g greyscale or mono)
- Breakdown or specifications for the following colour profiles: Pantone, CMYK, RGB and HEX
Typefaces come in multiple weights and styles and can be manipulated in different ways (e.g. uppercase/lowercase, bold, italics), which can affect the feel of your marketing materials. Defining which typefaces are used and where is another way to define your brand’s style.
Defining your corporate typefaces may cover:
- Name of any primary/secondary typefaces used in the logo, marketing material and on the web
- Examples showing the different weights used
- Descriptions of how elements, such as titles or body copy, should be styled
(e.g bold, all-caps for titles, regular weight and sentence-casing for body copy)
- In some cases, typefaces you use in one medium may not be usable or ideal for legibility in another (such as print versus web)
- Listing out alternative web-safe fonts may be useful as well.
Other Important Components
Brand style guides can be as in-depth as you need them to be and can help give users an insight into the more subjective aspects of your company. These might include:
- Brand history, values, vision, personality, and manifesto
- Copywriting style (e.g. keywords, words to avoid, tone of the writing)
- Photography style (e.g. lighting, composition, filters etc)
Examples and guidelines of common marketing materials such as business cards, letterheads, brochures and social media graphics are useful to include as a reference.
Extensive Brand Styleguide Example
The following guide we have created for a client demonstrates a few sections that go beyond the usual scope of a basic style guide.
Simple Brand Styleguide Example
This logo sheet is a quick reference for clients that may not need a full set of guidelines. Even though these sheets are brief, they contain the necessary information for designers and printers.
A brand style guide is important for any company to keep their visuals and messaging consistent across all communication touchpoints. If you need help developing your brand style guide, talk to D&Co Studio today. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 5292 2073.