Need to create a Style Guide but don’t know what to include? Whether you are creating one for yourself or a client, here are my 5 key elements to include in your Brand Style Guide.
1. Brand Strategy
Before you start your style guide, you first need to know your brand. This is the first essential step. Why is it the first essential step? Because all of the other elements in your style guide will communicate these key components through design. Components to cover include:
Our Proposition – Who you are. What is your background story? What’s your tone of voice? What’s your brand’s personality? Are you fun, cheeky or serious and professional? Optus does a great job of this. Their tone of voice is non-corporate, fun and approachable and this is reflected in their branding.
Our Purpose – Why you do what you do. Why your brand exists? What problem does your brand solve for your client? How do you help your customers?
Our Values – What you believe in. What core values do you stand for? A great technique to uncover your values is to brainstorm all the things your business stands against.
Our Customers – Who you serve. Who are your people? Your tribe? Your target audience? Who is your ideal customer?
Our Vision – What you want to achieve. How are you going to transform your customers lives? What goals do you want your business to achieve 5 or 10 years from now?
Our Mission – How you are going to do it. Do you have a competitive advantage that sets you apart from the competition?
The purpose of this section is to ensure your logo is used in the way you intended. Here are a few things to cover:
Variations – include all variations of your logo and describe when to use each one. Showing visual examples will make it really clear. For example – “Our preference is to use the blue logo, however sometimes to ensure legibility the black or white version will work better.”
Sizing – include a minimum size for your logo so that it will always be legible.
Clear space – this is the space around the logo to ensure that it always stands out. For example – “The minimum clear space is 50% of the height of the entire logo.”
Misuse – this is the “how not to” section. Outline how you don’t want your logo to be used. For example – “Do not outline the logo. Do not rotate the logo. Do not alter the logo’s colours in anyway” etc. Show visual examples to make it clear.
Introduce your brand typography to your client and show them how it will be used.
Type Hierarchy – if you are using more than one typeface family make sure to explain the type hierarchy. Which typeface is primary, and which is secondary.
Use of type – give clear instructions for use. What fonts will be used for headings, subheadings, body copy and captions.
Spacing – be sure to include tracking and kerning ratios to maintain a consistent style when font sizes change.
Story – Here you can explain the story of the typeface and how it relates to your brand. Here is an awesome example from Airbnb: “We use Circular as our primary typeface. We love that it strikes a balance between being a well-crafted, instantly recognisable brand typeface and one that has a friendly character. Referencing a number of classic typefaces that have been created in Europe and the USA over the past 100 years, it’s shape is global, approachable and timeless.” How awesome is that! They have matched the typeface characteristics to the brand characteristics – global, approachable and timeless! Genius!!
4. Colour Palette
Include swatches of your brand colours and be sure to include colour information so the colours can be reproduced accurately. RGB and hexadecimal codes for digital, CMYK and pantone for print. If you are using more than one colour palette, be sure to outline the colour hierarchy – primary and secondary.
This is the section where you want to include all your images that you are going to use to create a consistent brand.
Instructions – you may include any instructions here. Will there be filters used to create a consistent look? Will you only be using saturated images? Or images with light backgrounds.
Moodboard – you could even include a moodboard, which is a great way to convey the feeling or essence of your brand.
Your Brand Style Guide can be as simple or as complex as you like. The most important thing is that you have set a solid foundation for your brand. If you need any help check out our range of Brand Style Guide templates.
Creating a unique brand identity can be challenging, especially if you are not a designer. Use our worksheet to pinpoint your unique brand style.
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