Last updated on February 13th, 2021
A brand style guide is also known as a brand guide or brand book. For many companies, the guide is essential to maintain their brand identity. For them, such a well-thought-of guide becomes their key document, which serves as a guide to create a variety of content for brand marketing. With the help of such brand guides, they can communicate a message to a target audience. In this post, we’ve shared why it is important to follow a brand style guide for your business.
Most businesses of all scales today have their brand style guide. After all, they want to look professionals in the eyes of their audience. But that is not the sole reason. In this age of competition, businesses fear that if they have created an iota of doubt in the minds of customers, then it may jeopardize their businesses. So, customers must see all the brand colors and other elements across all their unique brand identities such as logo designs, business cards and more.
This consistency is one of the reasons why brands want to have a style guide. Companies should maintain consistency of style and other elements across all of their visual identities. This measure ensures that viewers and customers can trust the brand. If there is no consistency in the way different elements are incorporated, then it may confuse the viewers and customers. This will result in them migrating to the competitors, whose brand they find more trustworthy.
This means that each of your brand visuals will match your entire spectrum of visuals. So, a website design should match the logo of the brand in terms of colors, fonts, and style. Similarly, brochures, business cards, and other designs should preferably follow the same style guide when using different elements. That can be ensured only when the designer or content creator follows the one style guide only.
With the style guide in place, it will help vendors avoid mistakes in using your company’s logo and other visuals. Big companies like Adobe, Skype, and Trello have made their brand style guide public online. So, their employees can quickly access the guide whenever they need it.
What is a brand style guide?
Basically, a brand style guide is a reference sheet that tells about how a company’s logo, tagline, colors, etc. visuals should be used. The guide, therefore, has some examples of how a particular company’s logo must look in all situations.
So, the guide shows how a logo will appear in color, black and white, in print ads, menus, business cards, etc. The guide will have all the brand colors and fonts listed. It also has examples of the incorrect logo so that it can be avoided.
What should your brand style guide include?
Do not think that a brand style guide is for big businesses only. The fact is that even upcoming and small businesses first put in place one such guide before creating their different visual identities.
However, usually, a big size business has a detailed brand style guide as they have to maintain a high level of trust. Smaller businesses do not require a detailed guide at the evolving stage.
Here Is A List Of Things Your Brand Style Guide Should Have
- Your Company Logo – The style guide should have different versions of your company logo. Show how your logo will appear for different usages. A purpose here is to ensure that even when the logo is used differently, viewers should still be able to identify that it is your brand logo. Mention a tagline that your company may be used with the logo.
- Your Graphic Brand Elements – Give a list of patterns, textures, symbols, images that your brand uses.
- Color Palette – Identify your specific colors that your brand uses. Tell also why you use those colors.
- Specific Photo Guidelines – Tell about the photos your company may be using and what are the sizes and positions when printed.
- Specify Your Typographic Elements – Identify your typefaces and their sizes that should be and should not be used.
- Website Styles – Give the guidelines to the developers so that they can follow it when creating your website elements like buttons. The guideline will help developers ensure consistency across all the web pages.
Content Element Guidelines
A company uses content to tell its brand story. The guidelines make it clear as to what should be ensured in creating the content.
Here is What Content Elements Your Guide Include
i. Headlines and Body Copy
Tell more about how your content headlines and body text should look like. Headlines typically highlight the benefits while body content elaborates on the pain points of your target customers.
ii. Tone and Voice
Specify the tone and voice of your brand. For example, your brand may have a personal or reserved voice. Your brand tone can be light or serious. Or, is it a persuasive or educational tone? You will tell about it based on your target audience and products or services you deal in.
iii. Grammatical Details
Give the details such as the Oxford comma, if you use and other such specific grammar that your company prefers over other options. Similarly, tell if you use AP style or not.
You can also enrich your brand style guide by giving more details in case your brand is sensitive and has a broader appeal. In that case, you should even include writing samples and what words to avoid. Provide some PowerPoint templates or photo compositions as well.
Why is a brand style guide important to your business?
01. Ensure Brand Consistency
A brand style guide is essential to keep if your company wishes to ensure consistency in the use of your brand elements. These elements make your company’s visual identity. It is the visual identity that helps people in building a certain perception of what your company is all about. With a style guide in place, all of your visuals have the same colors, typography, images, and content elements.
If your brand has a strong and consistent use of the brand elements, it represents and reflects the true personality of your company and business. It also says a lot about your mission, vision, and promises.
02. Build Your Brand Recognition
With the help of your brand style guide, you are able to maintain a high level of brand recognition. This is important as people want to look at your brand from a certain angle that you have created with hard work over the years. You can also create your business cards using a business card maker that you can distribute to the target audience that helps in building your brand. In the absence of any such guidelines, chances are that anyone can mess with the identity and hence the recognition factor.
So, the style guide is your assurance that people will continue to recall your brand and identify it as before. Take for example the Apple brand. When you see a half bitten apple or a sleek silver laptop, you instantly recognize the brand behind it. That is the strength and power of branding. Your style guide helps maintain this brand identity so that people can recall it.
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03. Set Your Standard Rules
Your brand style guide lets you set some crucial standard rules that your company and visual identity makers can adhere to at all times. These standard guidelines serve as references to even the content creators.
For instance, your company can set a standard for the use of colors that only these particular colors can be used and others not. When such rules are in place, it helps in determining and maintaining those elements.
04. Convey A Cohesive Message
While a brand has many visual identities such as a logo, website, business card, brochures, etc, their message is the same for the target audience. Your standard brand style guide is your way to convey a brand message that remains the same across all the visuals. So, your graphic designers and content writers can refer to the style guide when creating the message.
So, your content and website can send out the same consistent message to the audience. To send a cohesive message, you refer to the guidelines to create a tone, voice, and imagery.
05. Save Your Time and Efforts
Creating new visuals and content takes a lot of time and effort. But you can save time, money, and energy for your designers and content creators if they can refer to your brand style guide.
06. Avoid A Chaotic Situation
A brand style guide is useful also to remove all confusion from the mind of new employees. They are not sure about what is your brand identity and how to create new visuals and content. But with the guidelines set in place, they can refer to it to understand what they need. There is no need to explain every single detail to them.
How to create your brand style guide?
Now that you understand the importance of having a brand style guide for your business, know how to create the guide.
Here Are Some Of The Points To Consider
01. Pick From Any Existing Style Guide As Your Model
One of the best ways to create your style guide is to model it after the guides already in circulation. Many style guides are available to businesses in every industry. All you need to do is to find the right fit and modify it as per your requirements. You can even mention which external guide and dictionary you use. For example, some companies use ‘’ The Associated Press Stylebook.’’
02. Decide On The Sections To Include
You should include these sections in your brand style guide. It should have formatting guidelines. Under this section, give your specifications regarding fonts, spacing, alignment, margins, and file name conventions.
Amongst general guidelines, mention the grammar primer you follow and any tricky grammar rules. Team members can instantly refer to the guide when they have any confusion about grammar rules.
You should also give a word list. If your company uses some specific words and their spellings, mention it clearly in the guide. For example, do you use ‘’health care’’ or ‘’healthcare’’?
03. Include Your Policies
Your style guide must say about your policies toward social media use and other legal considerations. The intention here is to save your company from any legal troubles.
04. Make It A Collaborative Style Guide
Do not create a style guide that looks like a document forced on your company’s employees. Instead, make it a flexible and collaborative document that can accommodate new knowledge, research, and options.
This also means that the style guide can be updated by responsible editors of your company. But while editing and adding new rules, you talk to your employees and take them into confidence.
05. Mention Your Resources For Employees
Make sure that your brand style guide has the resources that your employees can use while creating content and visuals. But put your most important resources at the top of the list. This means that your team members should look at the topmost resources first to find answers to questions related to the style.
i. Internal Style Guide
So, your internal style guide regarding content should go to the top of the list. Then, your team should look at the external style guide such as ‘’The Associated Press Stylebook.’’
ii. External Style Guide
Then, give the dictionary resource so that your team can find the answer if it did not from the first two resources. But the members should be using the same dictionary.
iii. Grammar Resource
After that, at the bottom of your brand style guide resource list, give your selected grammar resource. This resource will help your employees who want to find out the answer to a grammar question.
06. Make Your Style Guide Easily Accessible
You must ensure that your brand style guide is accessible to every responsible employee so that they can use it. If the style guide is harder to access, that will defeat the very purpose of having the guide. So, whenever you make revisions in the guide, everyone should be able to note those modifications.
For example, place your style guide on Google Docs so that the team members can access it from their Google Drive folders. In this way, you can choose who will edit the document and who can view it.
So, hopefully, you are now aware of the importance that a brand style guide holds for a company and its business. Make it certain that all your specifications of visual identities such as your logo and content find a clear mention in the guide. The more precise it is the more it becomes useful to your employees and team members.
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A brand style guide serves as a reference resource whenever a company’s employees or team members want to create visuals and content. They can find all the answers by visiting the guide. It helps in keeping your brand elements like colors and typography consistent across all visual identities. This is your way to win customers’ trust and loyalty.