A well-developed style guide is an essential tool for establishing brand identity. A brand style guide (also known as a brand book or brand guide) acts as a key document that helps content creators communicate a consistent message to your audience, so it’s a great asset for creating consistent, on-brand content.
What a style guide can do for your brand
Your brand style guide communicates your company’s design standards to your whole group. Having this document to reference for expected standards will make the lives of your designers, writers, and developers much easier and give them a solid framework to use as a starting point for their work.
Style guides can support marketing initiatives by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to your brand’s goals. Referencing a brand style guide ensures that content distinguishes a brand from its competitors, and is cohesive. This cohesion is important because it helps establish a strong brand voice that resonates with the audience, which is essential for building brand awareness. Over time, that awareness and consistency build trust.
When your company goes through a brand redesign, you should always create a new brand style guide to go along with it. It’s the best way to announce the rebrand to your team and get everyone on-board with the new design guidelines.
Large companies with teams in different locations across the globe can benefit hugely from making their style guides available online. Skype, Adobe and Trello all publish their brand guides publicly so that employees can access them whenever they’re needed.
What’s in a brand style guide
A style guide should include all the important guidelines for your brand’s identity and voice, especially the elements listed below. We’ve included examples from our own style guide, the Propoint Brand Book, to give you an idea of what yours might look like.
The logo, and any derivatives
Be sure to include the logo, along with its corresponding color formats for web and print. Instructions about the logo’s minimum size, and size in relationship to other assets, like taglines, should also be included to maintain the integrity of a brand’s visual identity during reproduction.
It’s also a good idea to include logo treatments that designers should avoid. Ensuring that logos are always applied consistently protects your brand equity.
Any typefaces used within the logo and marketing material should be a part of the style guide, along with their weights and a web-safe alternative, if necessary. Be sure to distinguish between fonts used for titles vs body copy, and include formatting preferences for copy.
These guidelines are meant to help developers keep elements like buttons and forms consistent across multiple webpages.
Additional examples and references, such as writing samples, words to avoid, PowerPoint templates or photography compositions could also be helpful to include in a brand style guide. That can be a lot to address within one document, so it’s important to cover the key points and ensure the document is simple enough to scan and commit to memory. The length and specificity of the style guide will vary based upon on your company’s needs.
A style guide is essential to keep your brand identity consistent, recognizable, and ownable, even as several different people develop content for your brand. Since a style guide defines the guidelines for maintaining a brand’s identity, it’s important to spend the time and resources to get it right.
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