Have you ever been shopping, reading a magazine or just browsing the internet and immediately recognized a brand based on their colors, logo or fonts? Chances are good that you have. Many of the best brands are memorable because they have consistent branding throughout all their marketing materials. One way that companies are can achieve this consistency is by developing a brand style guide.
What is a brand style guide?
A brand style guide is a set of design standards used throughout the company when developing creative assets. Most guides include everything from typography and color to logo and language. All these things are essential in creating a clearly defined view of what your brand represents.
Why use a brand style guide?
A brand style guide is important because it creates consistency and helps to avoid internal and external miscommunication. With a guide, everyone has access to the same colors, fonts and imagery that you want used throughout your company. A guide helps to ensure everything looks, feels and sounds the same wherever your brand is shown, whether they are print or digital assets.
What are some best practices for creating a brand style guide?
Here are five essential elements to include when creating your own style guide:
1. Logo and logo guide. In order to make your logo recognizable it must be used consistently. Good brand style guides outline exactly how to use their logos. This can include how much space to keep around the logo, just like Spotify has done in their style guide.
These “exclusion zones” are clearly marked and ensure that there is space around the logo, so it maintains a strong visual impact.
A great style guide also includes acceptable color variations for a logo, like IBM does with theirs below:
It can also help to give some examples of incorrect usage of your brands logo, like Netflix does in their guide, so users are very clear on what not to do:
2. Core color palette. A color palette is a group of colors that is used throughout your branding. To keep your brand’s recognition intact it is important to make your colors well known and consistent. Oftentimes, a brand’s color palette is broken down into three groups: primary colors, secondary or accent colors, and neutrals.
For example, in our very own ClickDimensions brand style guide, we have all three categories well defined.
You will also notice that in addition to the color swatches, we have also provided CMYK, RGB, HEX and Pantone codes so that colors will remain consistent throughout print, web or apparel.
3. Typography. Typography is another important part of a brand’s style guide. Typically, this section will include specific fonts, how they are used throughout your brand and where to access them.
For example, the Red Cross shows in their guide which fonts they use, when to use each and where they are available.
4. Imagery. In your brand style guide you will want to provide some guidelines for what types of imagery to use. For instance, does your company generally use more photography or more illustrations? If photography is used, are subjects looking at the camera or at each other? Are photos brightly lit or are they more subtle?
For example, LinkedIn states in their style guide that “photos capture real people in the real world of work.” Therefore, all the photography they use for their branding feature people working or engaged with others, unaware of the camera.
By contrast, Trello uses graphics instead of photographs that are illustrated to match their brand style. Each graphic, although different, has the same look and feel, making it cohesive to the brand.
5. Voice. Voice, as you might have guessed, is a part of the brand style guide that has nothing to do with the visual aspects. This section of the guide refers to how we speak, what type of language you use and the overall personality of your brand.
For instance, Fandango breaks their voice guidelines into different categories such as simple, magnetic or definitive. They then give examples of how they want people in their company to sound.
With these essential elements, you will be well on your way to creating a comprehensive brand style guide that represents your company and helps make your brand memorable.