Your brand style guide in 5 steps
A brand style guide is a reference tool to help keep your visual branding consistent across all levels of your business. It is not only handy for internal use, but helps you convey your brand's message to your business partners and audiences. Here's how to create one for your business in five easy steps.
1. Define your brand
Before you set to work on your brand style guide, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have a clear understanding of your brand. What is your business mission? What are your values? Who is your target audience?
A good exercise is to try and describe your brand using three to five adjectives. Are you professional or quirky? Traditional or trendy? Serious or light-hearted? This groundwork can make the process of creating your guide a lot smoother.
2. Collect inspiration
If you have yet to decide on a logo and basic branding elements, such as colours and fonts for your business, start here. A graphic designer can help you get your thoughts down and connect any missing dots.
It's always a good idea to seek inspiration from other people who have done this before you. Creative platforms like Pinterest house a wealth of ideas for exactly this purpose. It might help you narrow down elements that suit your brand best.
3. Outline your content
There are six key elements that should be included in every style guide:
1. First is your brand story, which is a summary of your business's vision and mission
2. Your logo and how to use it correctly
3. Your brand's colour palette, to ensure all artwork is in harmony with one another
4. Your typography and fonts, to help ensure all your written content is easy to read
5. Imagery and illustration guidelines, to outline the style of imagery and illustrations, e.g. icons
6. And last but not least, your tone of voice, to ensures all communication, internally and client-facing, is consistent
You can also cover use in a digital or print context, stationery (including paper stocks) and finishes, uniforms, and your social media page assets like avatars, header images and example content.
4. Lay down some ground rules
A brand style guide is precisely that: a guideline on how to communicate your brand. This means you need to dictate exactly how things should be done, as well as how they shouldn't.
For logo use, this includes the acceptable dimensions, colours, white space and placement rules. When it comes to tone of voice, you should find fitting adjectives to define the type of language you use and how you want your brand communications to be perceived. For example, 'witty', 'sincere', 'formal' or 'informal'.
5. Keep it simple
Your brand style guide is likely to be used by everyone from employees to partners and agencies. Whoever picks it up should be able to make sense of it.
That's why it's a good idea to keep paragraphs short, punchy and to the point. A minimalist design featuring clean lines and plenty of white space can also help make your document more digestible.
Et voila! Your style guide is complete. The only thing left to do is to keep it up-to-date to reflect any changes as your business evolves and grows over time.
Want help creating a brand style guide for your business? Download your Style-guide-on-a-page template.