A brand style guide serves as a vital tool for maintaining consistency and coherence in all aspects of your visual identity. It provides guidelines and standards that ensure your brand is consistently represented across various platforms, channels, and touchpoints. Building an effective style guide requires careful planning and attention to detail.
It’s important that style guides are followed intently to guarantee that your colours, fonts and graphics gain recognition. Effective use of your style will result in your audience identifying your business as soon as they see elements of your branding.
The ten steps that will discuss in this post will help you develop a thorough and effective brand style guide.
Define your business identity before diving into the details of your style guide. Define your primary audience, personality, values, and mission of your brand. Know what image you’d like your brand to represent as well as what makes it unique compared to competitors. All the components of your style guide will be based on this foundation.
This is the opportunity to bring to the fore how you see the business. Defining your brand helps guide you on future business decisions. Will your brand be loud and proud or will it be subversive and mysterious? Or will you be recognised as cutting edge and professional? Now is your chance to define the future of your brand.
The visual identity of your brand is a critical aspect of your style guide. Start by creating a core set of visual elements that will represent you consistently. This includes your:
Specify how each of these elements should be used, ensuring cohesion and recognition across all brand touchpoints.
You can base your visual identity on fonts, objects and colours that you would like to associate your business with. This is where you can have fun and experiment with different visual elements. The result should be a set of visual components that complement each other.
Your logo is the face of your brand and should be treated with care. Clearly outline the dos and don’ts of logo usage in your style guide. Specify the correct logo variations, sizes, clear space requirements, and proper placement. Additionally, include guidelines for situations where your logo should not be used or modified.
This will help any business or organisation that you might work with understand how to use your logo. By doing this, audiences will only see your logo at its best. It can be easy for others to misuse your logo or be unaware of how you would like it showcased. Avoid the awkwardness and direct them through your guidelines.
This is also important for your staff. Make their job easier and provide them with instruction on how and where your logo should be used.
Again, consistency is key.
Typography plays a crucial role in conveying your personality and tone. Select a primary and secondary font that aligns with your brand identity. Specify the font styles, sizes, and spacing for various types of content, such as headlines, body text, and captions. Provide examples of correct and incorrect typography usage to maintain consistency.
Choose a typography style that complements each other. Typography for your headings can be more theatrical because usually the font size is larger so the readability is better. Generally, paragraph or body text fonts are smaller so choose a font that is easy to read.
Colors evoke emotions and have a significant impact on brand recognition. Choose a primary color palette that reflects your personality and aligns with your target audience. Specify primary and secondary colors, as well as their hex codes or pantone numbers. This will allow you and others that use the style guide to easily find your exact colours when creating visual assets or working on your website. Define color usage for different elements, such as backgrounds, text, and accents.
Consistent imagery and photography use helps establish a recognisable visual style. Determine the types of images and photography that align with your identity. Specify image composition, subject matter, color treatments, filters, and any other relevant guidelines. This ensures that all visuals associated with your brand reflect a cohesive aesthetic.
Create a mood board to begin as a way to identify the photographs and other visual elements associated with your brand. This helps you define the imagery that complements your business.
Graphic elements such as icons, patterns, or illustrations all contribute to your brand’s visual identity. Establish guidelines for the usage, size, placement, and style of these elements. Consider how they should be integrated into your marketing collateral, website, social media, and other brand assets.
Your graphic elements should be recognisable on their own. If done correctly, your audience could spot your brand by seeing the element. That’s why it’s important to choose a select number of elements that properly represent your business.
Consistency in your voice and tone is crucial for building a strong brand identity. Define your brand’s voice characteristics, such as formal or casual, friendly or authoritative. Provide guidelines on how to communicate with your target audience consistently across different channels and content types. Include examples of voice in different scenarios to ensure clarity.
Look at it like your brand is a team mate in your footy team. They have a wicked sense of humor, they react to criticism in a certain way, they give unique words of encouragement and they know how to inspire a win before the game. It doesn’t surprise you what the team mate says and how they say it because that’s who they are. Same should be the case for your brand – make your tone, style and delivery distinguishable.
Compile all the guidelines and examples into a comprehensive document. This document should be easily accessible to all stakeholders, including internal teams, external partners, and vendors. Use clear visuals, examples, and explanations to ensure that the guidelines are easily understood and can be implemented effectively.
A brand style guide is not a static document but an evolving resource. Regularly review and update the guide to incorporate new brand elements, trends, or changes in your target audience. Communicate any updates to all relevant parties to ensure consistency in brand representation.
A well-crafted brand style guide is a valuable asset that establishes a consistent and recognisable brand identity. By following these ten steps, you can create an effective brand style guide that directs your visual and verbal brand representation across various platforms and channels. Remember, consistency is key to building brand recognition and loyalty. Invest time and effort into developing a comprehensive brand style guide, and watch your brand thrive with a unified and impactful identity.
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