You take the time and spend the money to create your logo and develop your brand voice and strategy. But when the time comes to use your new identity, all of the sudden fonts, colors, messaging, etc. that aren’t reflective of your brand start to sneak into your social posts and website, creating confusion for your client.
I’ve seen it happen many times. My solution? A brand style guide.
I’m sharing three reasons you need to have a style guide for your business.
1. It’s a quick reference to show up consistently
Having a style guide, you create a space that houses all of the names for your fonts and colors, showcases the proper logos to be used, the style of imagery and/or photo edit style, any patterns, icons or textures used in your brand and more.
Font names may be easily memorized, but I know for me I certainly don’t have the color names and codes memorized! To use the colors that represent your brand consistently on every piece we put out we can’t simply use our best judgement in the color selector tool – because 99% of the time it won’t be quite right. Instead, grabbing the color codes from our style guides allows us to use the exact color every time on the web (hexadecimal code) and in print (cmyk values).
But this also goes beyond me or you as the business owner. If you have a team member creating designs for you or an outside company creating promotional items, a style guide is a resource you can provide so they can easily reference how your brand is presented. This gives them the tools to properly create in a way that properly showcases your brand and identity.
Pro tip: Save the page of your style guide as a jpeg on your phone. Then while creating an Instagram story you can easily dropper select the correct brand colors.
2. You define how to use your brand elements
It’s not enough to simply list the brand colors and fonts mood board style. For example, if you use red as an accent color, simply listing it could result in red being used as a main color in a piece which you did not intend. A style guide is a place for you to define the rules for exactly how your brand elements should be used in every situation; including logo usage, colors, fonts, templates, voice, formatting and more.
This would include the correct color and layout alternatives for your logo when the primary full color version is not appropriate because of placement or background. But it also includes the minimum size your logo should appear, how much white space should appear around it for legibility and even if it should not be rotated and placed at an angle.
You can define colors as primary, secondary, tertiary and accent. Fonts can be defined as for use in titles, body copy, captions, and call-outs. As well as minimum size the fonts should appear in. For fonts you can even define appropriate alternatives if using the primary fonts is not an option.
You get to create as many or as few guidelines to follow for proper usage of your brand elements and assets to keep a consistent look and voice for your brand.
Pro tip: List where fonts can be found and/or purchased within your style guide for anyone outside of your team who may be creating an item for your brand. You can also provide a contact for any questions they may have or who can provide them with necessary elements like textures, icons, and logo files.
3. It goes beyond your logo, fonts, and colors
Let’s move on from the visuals I’ve talked so much about in the first two reasons. A style guide can also define voice and copy guidelines.
You may have social media managers and copy writers creating content to represent your brand as well! And being honest, your message is often MORE important than the visuals. In your style guide you can set a desired overall tone for how your copy should sound and define words to avoid that would cause confusion or misrepresentation.
You can also choose an editing style to follow or how you want to list things like phone numbers and website addresses, etc. to appear.
BONUS: a style guide gets to grow with you!
Your business and brand will evolve over time, and this style guide gets to grow with you! It is not a finite element meant to make you stagnant in one look and feel. Rather it can be updated over time as things change, whether swapping a font or a color, or completely changing your brand voice.
It’s time to create your style guide
Ok, you know you need a style guide, but it can be overwhelming to create one from scratch, or know what should go in it. Don’t worry, I’ve got you! My simple style guide template will make it easy for you to create this must-have tool with everything you need.