Why are style guides important? They create brand consistency.
An effective brand appeals to your target audience, communicates your business values, streamlines your company identity, and develops visual recognition. Your brand can only provide these benefits if every individual in your company—and all the materials it produces—follow the same visual guidelines.
By creating a brand strategy and style guide, you can save yourself time and effort when designing marketing materials, web pages, or flyers for your company.
Before: Develop Your Brand Strategy
Unfortunately, you can’t just pick the fonts and typefaces you like; strategy is a must. Start by asking questions to get informed, have direction, and gather evidence to support every choice you make:
Who are your target personas?
What are your company’s values?
What makes you different?
What do you need to communicate about your product or services?
How do you want people to feel when interacting with your brand?
What do you want people to know?
Companies have personalities; a marketing firm brand will not be the same as a law firm brand. Sit down with your visual design, branding, or marketing team to find the answers you need to start creating a style guide for your brand.
During: Create Your Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide is a visual plan for your company’s design. Colors, fonts, photography, and your logo all communicate for your business.
Your guide should be detailed and clear. Someone unacquainted with your business should be able to pick it up and recreate the feel of your visual brand. Consider including the following:
Hierarchy of typefaces
Color combinations, including main colors, sub-colors, and seasonal colors
Rules for design elements such as lines, illustrations, and gradients
Logo size and placement
Photography and icon styles
Detailed descriptions and explanations
Your brand style guide should also include what not to do. For example, you may have rules about what orientations or levels of transparency can be applied to your logo.
Remember, creating a style guide can be tricky and will take time. Don’t rush; time gives you the freedom to be strategic and creative.
After: Take Advantage of Your New Visual Tool
To ensure the brand consistency that you have been working toward, make sure you implement the guidelines across your company. Don’t put together anything—web pages, business cards, swag, printable materials—that strays from the style guide. Visually present a united front to your clients and potential new customers.
Keep in mind, however, that things change. Your product could change as your company grows, your target client could change as you collect data, and culture can and will change with time. Walk the line between devotion to your brand and evaluating new directions.
Now that you and your visual design team have created a brand style guide, it’s time to use it.