WHAT IS A BRAND STYLE GUIDE?
A brand style guide, also known as a ‘brand book’, ‘brand guidelines’ or ‘brand standards’ is a visual breakdown of your brand ranging from font styles and colours to image style and design. A style guide can also reference the kind of tone and point of view you want to use for your brand ‘message’ as well as detailing your target market. Although some companies create beautiful visual representations of their brand, it can also be a simple document that can easily be edited as your visual style develops over time. This style guide template download provides guidelines for you to fill out and use for your company’s branding.
WHY CREATE A BRAND STYLE GUIDE?
A brand style guide is an essential tool for your company regardless of its size. Even if you’re a solopreneur you should create a guide. Why waste brain space trying to remember a colour hex code when you can easily access it within your style guide. Furthermore, if you’re planning on outsourcing certain design tasks, you’ll need a brand style guide for a freelance designer to follow in order to retain aspects of your visual brand.
The same can be said if you’re working as part of a team. You should have a brand style guide with as much detail as possible so that every member of your team can understand (or easily find) the central elements of your visual brand.
Although the reason for creating a brand style guide is to make sure all the members of your team are on the same page regarding visuals, the aim of a style guide is to ensure all the elements of your brand, when combined together, are easily recognizable by your audience.
There are many companies out there with very strong visual style, and we can see this throughout their products, social media and other forms of advertising.
WHAT DOES A BRAND STYLE GUIDE INCLUDE?
One of my favourites is Marmite (yup, you either love it or you hate it!), whose yellow and black theme and red and white logo is instantly recognizable.
When introducing a new ‘reduced salt’ product the usual bright yellow colour was replaced by a contrasting blue colour. Whilst retaining its signature black bottle and red banner logo, the yellow becomes a minor colour. The audience will still recognize the brand but know there is a difference between Marmite’s ‘normal’ bottle and their new product.
The brand style guide might also include some less obvious content, including information on your target market, as this can make a big difference when creating visuals. Granted, you will have probably already considered your target market, also known as an ‘avatar’ to choose various elements of your brand, including font type, colours, logo etc before creating this brand style guide. However, it will also help freelancers or designers who are unfamiliar with your brand to glean context about your visual style before creating graphics.
TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE
You should be as specific as you can about your customer ‘avatar’, even going as far as creating a visual representation of them. Detail their occupation, where they live even their hobbies. Each detail may help your designer make a choice that could be the difference between your target audience paying attention to your visuals, or not.
INCLUDE VISUAL EXAMPLES IN YOUR STYLE GUIDE
If you have existing graphics that you’re happy with and uphold your companies values, include these within your style guide. If you want your logo to be in a specific place and a certain size on your social media graphics then you should also include examples with these specifications within your style guide.
LINK TO YOUR VISUALS AND LOGOS
If you’re sharing your brand style guide with a freelancer or a designer, you should include links to all your visuals and logos within the style guide. Create a specific folder that includes everything necessary for your designer to create visuals that fit your needs. If you’re using Google Drive, you can simply share your Style Guide folder with your freelancer and they can access those specific files.
You can download the Style Guide Template and instructional SOP by filling in your email in the space at the top of the page and it will be sent to your inbox.