Maintaining quality and consistency in your business’ visual content can be a challenge. For this reason, creating style guides (or brand bibles) is a must in every company. This essential document contains all the necessary information to create whatever content your company needs while remaining consistent. It’s the heart and soul of your brand’s look and feels.
A brand style guide takes your mission, vision, and core values into every aspect of your communication and design processes. Let’s explore the basics of creating your own style guide in five steps.
What Is a Brand Style Guide?
A brand style guide is a rulebook that contains specifications on everything that influences your brand’s look, from logo and font to photography and color selections. It’s very important to have directions on how to present your brand to the world, and a style guide guarantees that your company has coherence, no matter who does the job.
It takes time and effort to create a brand style guide. However, we’re talking about your brand identity and your business’s personality. So, it’s really important and it will save you a lot of frustration in the future.
The Creation Process
We’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you make a rulebook that works for everyone in your team. So, let’s get started.
Gather examples of emails, successful stories and ads, and any content that truly represents your brand. Also, think about what other brands are doing and what you like about them. Finally, listen to your team and customers. They might have valuable feedback that can be used in the guide.
Another tip is to do an activity with your co-workers, in which every team creates a Pinterest board that represents the company’s core values. This will give you an idea about how the team perceives your brand.
The 6 Fundamental Elements
Six basic elements must be in your brand style guide. Some you might already have; however, after defining your brand identity, you may make some changes to them.
In this step, you will work with a designer (or a design team). It’s really important that you trust in this person, and that he/she understands your business’s personality, to achieve the best outcome.
Your logo is the one thing that everyone instantly identifies as yours. Therefore, you need to use it properly and prevent mistakes, like warping or mis-aligning it. In the style guide, you can dictate your logo’s acceptable variations; size and proper proportions, amount of white space around it, color variations, when not to use it, and so on.
Sharing your story to the world is essential to gain your customer’s trust. In this step, you will advertise your mission, vision, audience, and core values. It’s important to design your style guideline according to the components mentioned here.
Choose a typography that matches your business’ personality. You can choose one typeface family or different typefaces for different purposes; web, print, and other platforms.
Here are some questions you should answer:
- What is your ideal font size for headlines, body text, and captions?
- Do you want the alignment to be right, left, or centered?
- How much spacing between paragraphs and sentences? Or, how many sentences should a paragraph have?
Defining a brand color palette is necessary to preserve consistency because colors can be easily shifted. In your style guide make to sure to include the following information:
- Print Color: CMYK
- Digital Color: RGB and HEX codes
- Color Match: PANTONE name and number
Usually, companies choose four or less colors that are part of, or complement, their logo. Also, consider adding shade variations and the do’s and don’ts.
Your brand should also sound a certain way. You need to specify your business’s writing style. For example, you might mention words or phrases that you like and the ones that should be avoided. Moreover, include the audience you’re targeting and take advantage of the messaging resources that have worked for you, so far.
Imagery and Iconography
In this section, you will create guidelines for your photos, infographics, illustrations, charts, etc. You need to specify when and where to use this type of imagery. For example, if you use a lot of photographs, you should describe the photographic style, color schemes, and any relevant technical aspect.
Moreover, you can include best practices, examples of images that have performed well for you, and inspirational images that are the right fit for your identity.
Personalize Your Brand Style Guide
The creation process of a brand style guide is meaningful because it’s your business’ personality and identity. Therefore, there is no magic formula to do it and you will adapt it to your needs and goals.
Once you are finished with the 6 basics elements, you should ask yourself what is missing and make a list of additional factors that you will need to include in the guide.
Outline Your Guide
Make an outline of your brand guide, including all the elements that we defined in the previous steps and then, establish how you would like to share it with your team, e.g, printed, digital PDF, or even a public document.
Adaptation Is Key
This is a learning path and adaptation is key for evolution. Once you implement your brand style guide, you will notice what is working and what needs to be changed. We advise you to periodically evaluate your guide.
A style guide is all about consistency and telling your team how to be truthful to the brand. Remember that you’re going to tell the world who you are and why they should choose you.
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