Take a few seconds to think of your favorite company. What comes to mind? Perhaps you’re imagining a specific logo, a color, or even a slogan. It only takes a quick thought to visualize the company, but what is the key to making it so recognizable? The answer is a style guide that bundles a brand’s identity into one rulebook. Yes, having a “rulebook” for your brand may sound intimidating, but a style guide is a foolproof foundation for building brand consistency.
What is a style guide?
A style guide is a reference document that specifies all visual aspects of your brand. It provides universal instructions on how your brand should (and shouldn’t) be portrayed to your audiences. Key components of a style guide include colors, logos, typography, and imagery that aligns with your brand’s identity. A well-executed style guide also identifies the intended tone and voice of brand messaging, encompassing all aspects of your brand identity.
Your style guide gives direction to any type of content for your company, including presentations, business cards, social media posts, and more. Your style guide should not only be used internally by employees but also shared with external partners to ensure that they are representing your brand correctly.
Why should your company have a style guide?
Consistency is key when creating content for your business. A recent study reported that consistent presentation of a brand has been seen to increase revenue by 33%. A style guide that outlines the standard visual elements of a brand can ensure that all your company’s content maintains a cohesive look and feel. Keeping your branding consistent also increases the awareness of your company. If your content conflicts with each other, your customers may feel confused and less acquainted with the brand.
Remember how it only took a few seconds to visualize your favorite company? Consistent branding plays a crucial role in audience recognition. As a small business, building brand awareness can be a challenge. A style guide is the first step in making your business identifiable to your customers.
While developing a style guide may seem like a tedious process, it will save you time in the long run. Having a style guide will streamline your content creation. When visual guidelines are clear to your employees and partners, there’s more time to focus on creative content rather than spending time deciding what design elements look best every time.
Components of a great style guide
Brand Story: Include a summary of your company, its offerings, its mission and vision statements, and its core values. Your brand story can also introduce tone and voice, intended audiences, and explanations behind the company name and tagline. Putting this information at the forefront of your style guide establishes the brand’s foundation and helps users understand the basics of your company.
Logo: It’s important to specify guidelines for perhaps the most iconic part of a brand. Include all approved versions of your company logo in your style guide along with proper sizing and proportion information. Give clear directions on how much spacing the logo needs in relation to other visual content. If you offer your logo in different colors, make sure to include the correct usage of each variation.
Color: Your brand should have no more than four primary colors. In addition to adding color swatches to your style guide, you should also add all information needed to reproduce the colors accurately. This means including RGB and HEX codes for digital assets, CMYK codes for print assets, and Pantone values (though Adobe is making it difficult to use these).
Typography: Like colors, your number of brand fonts should be limited. In your style guide, note the fonts and their usages. What font should be used for headings? And for paragraphs? What sizes should be used? There’s a lot that goes into typography choices that a seasoned designer could assist you with.
Imagery: Define the genre of images and illustrations that you want your brand to utilize. Whether your company is represented by dramatic action shots or family-oriented portraits, it’s important to outline best practices for these types of visuals. To do this, you should include photos your company has used in the past. You can also display stock photos that represent your brand identity.
The “Don’ts”: Including how NOT to represent your brand can be just as helpful as outlining what you DO want. Don’t be afraid to specify incorrect usage of your logo, color palette, typography, or imagery so those mistakes won’t manifest in your content.
The above are the main components of a good style guide, but the contents don’t have to stop there. The more specific your style guide is, the more consistent and efficient your content strategy will be. Keep in mind that implementing a style guide doesn’t happen overnight. The guide should be enforced throughout your company, both internally and externally, to guarantee success. Make it a habit to refer to the style guide when creating any type of content. Then, you’ll be one step closer to achieving the brand awareness that your company is looking for.
Interested in creating a style guide for your company? Book a call with Sarah today to learn more.