The most important asset a business has is its brand – what people think and say about a business. What people think comes from many different factors, but two of the big ones are messaging and visuals. To make sure every piece of content you create is up to par, you and your team need to make sure you’re all on the same page. Enter: style guides.
WHAT ARE STYLE GUIDES?
A style guide is a set of standards that outlines how your brand is positioned. Every guide is different, but all should bring clarity to what your business stands for.
They usually lay out requirements for logo use, brand colors, and typography. I’ll go through this in more detail a little later.
WHY ARE STYLE GUIDES IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Style guides are important to create consistency across every piece of media you create. The great thing about creating your own is that they can be as comprehensive, or flexible, as you need them to be.
If you work for a large corporate company, then chances are your style guide needs to be very specific, comprehensive, and cover every customer-facing platform. But if you’re a small mom-and-pop shop, then something that outlines just the basics might be more your pace. Think of them as “living documents” – they can grow and change with you.
Here are some of my favorites for inspiration:
SIX THINGS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS INCLUDE IN YOUR BRAND GUIDE
This section should be like a mini business plan, covering things like your vision, mission and company values. It also doesn’t hurt to include information about your target audience and what makes you the perfect choice for them.
Text & Tone
Every business has a voice. What’s yours? When you interact with customers what is the persona you take on? This section should go over your tone of voice, language, and purpose of content.
Seeing your logo is often the first interaction people have with your brand. Here you can outline requirements to ensure your logo is displayed as it’s meant to be – no matter what platform, or who is creating the collateral.
When creating your color palette, remember less is more. And it’s always best to include your colors in CMYK, RGB, Hex Color Code, and Pantone. I know it might sound like overkill. But remember, consistency is key. Each of these color types has a specific purpose that nearly every business will need at some point. So it’s best to be thorough.
A type palette is just as important as your logo usage or color palette – but it can often be overlooked if you’re not working with a designer. Use this section to document your headline and body-copy typefaces. If you have requirements on how they’re supposed to be displayed this is where you’ll document that.
This one can be a bit harder to outline. But trust me, it’s worth it. Especially if you have team members taking photos with their phones and cameras. In this section note the tone you want your photos to have, style requirements, and how you want people to appear in your photos. Are they smiling, sad, looking directly at the camera, or just silhouettes?
Here are a few other things that you might find helpful to document in your style guide:
- Illustrative elements
- Patterns and textures
- Animations and video
- Signage requirements
- In-store display guidelines