A Brand Style Guide is the brand standards for everything you use to communicate your brand including visual images and written communications. It’s all the design elements that go into your brand such as the logo, colors, fonts, images and added design elements.
It’s all about consistency, the more your brand and its design elements are viewed over and over, the more recognizable it will become.
The Brand Style Guide is used to ensure that colors always remain the same. After all, you wouldn’t want your logo to be a bright blue on one piece of material, a different blue on your website and then a third blue on your business cards. The blue (if that’s the color you choose) should all be the same for your materials, your website and your business cards, and of course your logo should be on all of these pieces as well.
For example: Would you recognize a can of coke without its famous logo?
What if the can was just red without any logo on it, would you know it was a can of coke? Now coke has been able to expand their branding and add black to their color standards and they even produced a green can but the similarity between them all is their famous coke logo. They also have years of branding equity which allows them to make these changes without affecting their brand. It takes time for your brand to become recognized but by using it consistently eventually when people see a post you’ve made with your branding and logo they will soon recognize it as yours. In the end, you too will build brand equity.
The Brand Style Guide is also a valuable tool when you have someone working with you or for you. Providing them with a copy of your Brand Style Guide gives them direction for all your brand design elements and it will ensure that they use the right colors, fonts and design.
A Brand Style Guide should include:
- Logo (colors and black & white, sizing and when to use them)
- Your Tag Line (if you have one)
- Your Primary & Secondary Brand Colors (logo color, design colors, any variations for your brand if there is any)
- Your Primary & Secondary Brand Fonts (the font you will mostly use for headings, text, quotes, image descriptions, etc. Be sure to list them all)
- Imagery (List if you use full colored images, a specific color, black & white only, or a specific design of photographs for example vintage, cartoon, flowers, etc.) If it something that is relevant to your branding then list it on your Brand Style Guide for reference.
- Image Dimensions (this can be included and will be very helpful when posting on social media sites)
A style guide should also include the tone and style that you write your communications. This isn’t always easy to keep on track because you sometimes use different tones when writing on various subjects but for the most part, your brand’s communications should be consistent. If there is a certain style of writing you want to use for brand across various online platforms and communications then be sure to include this. If there is a style you do not want associated with your brand then this should also be listed here.
You can be more specific about content and decide if you will be writing as yourself or in third person. You may also want to note if you will be writing in English or American (eg: colour vs. color) you should pick one and be consistent. If you are Canadian but writing for an American audience you may want to use the American version of the words (color) but be sure you always write this way. When writing blog titles, you may come up with a style that is part of your brand. If you have a niche blog and all of your titles are written in a certain way then include this in your style guide. If they are to be written in all capitals, sentence case or title case (some are capitalized and some are not).
Anything that is part of “your brand” that is to be used on a constant basis should be included in your Brand Style Guide.
Your style guide can also include templates that have your logo and brand colors on them:
Business Cards, Letterhead, Invoices, Newsletters, etc.
You may even want to include a small description of your business for company listings so that they are always the same and a mission statement if you have one.
Print off a copy of our Brand Style Guide Worksheet to help get your started.