What if everyone you hire could look at a single document and just get your brand? What if they knew right away what your company stands for and how you want to represent it across platforms?
A brand style guide can make this dream come true. A document created once and updated occasionally can keep a whole team on track with far less work.
If you're looking for a practical way to keep your branding consistent no matter how many people you have on your team or project, a brand style guide serves as a cheat sheet of writing and design standards that visually represents your brand.
You could send your style guide to your new graphic designer to get your social media images sized to perfection or hand off a physical copy to your printer to get banners or flyers designed and printed.
Either way, your first step is to get your style guide off the ground. Here are 3 essentials you need to make a great one:
While your brand is much more than just your logo, it's still an essential part of your brand, so you'll want to include it in your style guide. It's what makes your brand recognizable across platforms and is often the first thing potential customers notice. If you have multiple logos, it's a good idea to include them, too.
A freelance graphic designer may want options when designing graphics for online or print. Be sure to add some logo options that also have a transparent background to overlay on social media graphics and landing pages. Designing your logo as an overlay is a great way to protect your photos and make your brand graphics look more professional.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but your fonts speak volumes when it comes to your brand identity. Different fonts can completely change the look and the feel of your brand. Some are classic. Some are serious. Some are playful. You will want more than one typeface in your brand tool belt, but keep your combinations consistent.
In this section of your style guide, you may also include which fonts to use for titles versus body copy and how you want your copy formatted. This helps all the writers on your team get the formatting right the first time around, rather than sending revision requests back and forth.
Is your brand bright and cheery, dark and mysterious, or somewhere in between?
The fonts you choose have an impact and so do your brand colors. Your brand style guide is a great place to display your colors in a grid and also store the codes for each color for both online and print.
When choosing which colors to add, look at top brands for inspiration as each color palette creates a different tone. Take cars for example. Luxurious brands, like Lexus, use grays, blacks, silvers, and golds. The more family-friendly brands like Ford and Volkswagen use more blue representing reliability and durability.
Logos, fonts, and colors. These are the three core essentials of any brand style guide to save you both time and money. If you would like to expand your style guide later, you can also add guidelines for photography, iconography, and web-specific elements.
You could also include your ideal target audience or customer avatar and brand mission statement. What you include is completely up to you. You can adjust your style guide over time as you work with your team to see what needs to be added or taken away.
Start with these core essentials and you will be well on your way to branded bliss.