What is a style guide?

A style guide is one of the first necessary ingredients to launching an effective brand strategy. Basically, a style guide is an instruction manual on how to appropriately use your company’s branding materials. It also forces you to dive deep into your brands identity, strengthening and clarifying it. With a style guide you can ensure that the tone and message of your company is displayed correctly and consistently regardless of who is creating the promotion. Having brand consistency increases the impact of the message you are delivering to your customers – inconsistency can lead to confusion and ultimately a dissatisfied customer.

Who is a style guide for?

Depending on how your company operates, your style guide may be used by different audiences with different levels of familiarity with your brand. It can be used by internal design teams or new hires who aren’t completely familiar with your brand. Or perhaps you outsource your design work to an agency (like Conspire) in which case you can rest assured that the material designed will be perfectly on brand.

Key components of a style guide:

  1. Position statement – Who are you? What are your brands values? Are you informal, formal, personable, professional? The key here is to begin to carve out the personality of the brand. Are you the hero? The villain? The friend? Get creative here and really begin to think about your brand as another person.
  2. Logo – Your logo is the most important visual representation and is the first ambassador customers will see of your brand. What is your logo and what does it stand for? How should each logo be used or more importantly, how should your logo not be used?
  3. Font – What font will be used for headings, sub-headings, and paragraphs? Do not overlook font choice, it a key component to a consistent brand strategy, fonts speak louder than you may think.
  4. Color – Plan on choosing around 3 colors for your brand. A base color, an accent color, and a neutral color. Make sure to explicitly state the Pantone reference numbers, the CMYK ink percentages, the RGB values, and the hexadecimal codes of your brand colors.

What Next?

If you took the time to dive deep into your brands identity through a style guide you are now prepared to take the next steps in developing your brand and marketing strategies. Keep your style guide somewhere close and update it where you see fit. The more you can build out your guide in depth the more success you will have in portraying the correct identity to your customers.