How to Create a Brand Style Guide and Why
If you have a business, hopefully you have a brand. And if you have a brand, hopefully you have a brand style guide.
Don’t know what a brand style guide is? That’s okay, I am going to explain that in a few minutes.
And if you know what it is but just don’t have a brand style guide, I am going to explain to you why you need one and how to create it.
But first I want to remind you how important your brand is to your business…
Your brand defines your business.
Without having a brand, you won’t have consistency and you won’t come across as professional.
Think about it, do brands like Apple or Starbucks use a wide variety of random fonts and colors throughout? No. They stick to their brand fonts and colors.
In order to consistently stick to your brand, you need to have a brand style guide.
If you want to create your brandy style guide while following along with this post, you can get a FREE template when you submit your email here…
What is a brand style guide?
I really like the way the Executionists Web Design Specialists define brand style guides:
A brand style guide is the primary visual DNA of your company’s branding, though it can also reference grammar, tone, word usage and point of view.
It’s a collection of the core items used that define your brand which define your business.
There are multiple ways to create a brand style guide, and I will show you one way later on in the post. But you can deliver it as a one-page document, multiple pages, only show the visual aspects, or include grammar and tone.
Some brand style guides show every little element, some just show the core elements used daily.
A brand style guide is how your favorite brands consistently deliver the same look and feel you come to expect from them no matter where you come into contact with them.
Related post: Common Branding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Why do you need a brand style guide?
The number one reason you need a brand style guide is so you are able to easily provide consistency in your brand.
For example, when your business grows and you hire out some of your tasks, you will want to give them a copy of your brand style guide for them to follow.
It will also help keep you from getting caught up in trends or whatever your favorite brand is doing. You don’t want to stray from your chosen brand path.
But, as you grow and as your business grows, you may find your band and brand style guide no longer suits you or your business. This means it’s time for a rebrand and you will want to create a new brand style guide to go along with your new brand.
Otherwise, stick with your brand style guide to ensure you have consistency no matter where your customers find you. Including your website, social media, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc.
The core elements of a brand style guide:
These are a few elements that you definitely should include in your brand style guide. They are things that you using daily with your business.
This includes your main logo, alternate logos, and submarks.
Your main logo is the one you use the majority of the time. Your alternate logos should include variations of your logo but should overall feel the same as your main. These are used when the area you want to place your logo is smaller or larger or different shaped or different a color.
Submarks are the most basic version of your logo. These are usually just a letter or symbol. Oftentimes this is a great choice for your favicon!
You will want to place your main logo at the top of your brand style guide and then place your alternate logos underneath.
2. Color Palette
When creating your brand, you probably chose a few colors that you plan to use within your business. Ideally, this should be 4-5 colors.
You will want to include a little color swatch of each color and write the hex code for each of them so you know exactly which color it is and don’t just end up using a similar shade or tint.
Anytime you are creating something for your business that includes fonts, you want to make sure you are using the same fonts consistently.
You need a specific font for your headers, for body text, and if you can have a script font for some fancy text too. But you want to consistently use the same font for headers and the same font for body text.
On your brand style guide you can either just write out the name of the font or include each letter of the alphabet along with the name of the font so you can see exactly how it looks.
Your brand isn’t just about what people see but also what people feel. How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?
Do you want them to feel compassion, excitement, or minimalism? I guess minimalism isn’t really a feeling but it is a vibe someone gives off. But you get the idea.
You can also include your tone of voice with this. Do you speak soft or harsh? Do you keep it short and sweet or long and descriptive?
What vibes do you want to give off? How do you want your readers to feel? Include these words on your brand style guide.
Get your free brand style guide template:
What are your brand’s values? What do you want to value most in your business?
Do you want to value community, loyalty, and friendship? Or do you want to value knowledge, power, and achievement?
Think of at least 3 core values of your business and list them on your brand style guide.
Here is an example of brand vibes on the left, and brand values on the right.
6. Mood Board
You can include a mini mood board on your brand style guide. A mood board is a collection of images that represent the way you want your brand to look and feel.
The 6 items are elements you use with your brand every day. These elements are core elements to keeping your brand consistent.
I wanted to list off a few more options you can include in your brand style guide in case you have more elements or want to go into more detail about your brand. But not all brands will use these or at least not daily.
1. Patterns or Textures
A lot of brands use patterns or textures in their daily creations when it comes to their business.
These help your brand stand out a little more and tell your brand’s story. But don’t use them just because, actually use them when and where it makes sense.
You can include the icons you use on your website. This can help show your brand a little more and to make sure you use the same ones each time.
Another great element to include on your brand style guide is your business tagline. This will also help you remember exactly what it is in case it ever slips your mind.
Now that you have gathered all your core brand elements you can bring them all together onto a one-page document or a multiple-page document if you need more room. Having a brand style guide is important in keeping a consistent and cohesive brand identity at all times.
You can get a FREE brand style guide template by entering your email below. This way you can easily pop in your core brand elements and quickly have a professional looking brand style guide in minutes!