How to create a simple brand style guide

Consistency is key to building a memorable brand. You can build brand awareness, gain customer recognition, and ultimately increase sales when your target audience sees the same brand message over and over again.

How do you develop brand consistency? The first step is to create a brand style guide. 

What is a brand style guide? A brand style guide is a document that contains the specifics of your brand visuals. No matter who is working with your brand assets, you can rest assured that the result will be consistent because they will have the exact color specifications, fonts, scale, and imagery. Your style guide is the key to maintaining consistency throughout all of your brand’s collateral.

I often work with small businesses and have noticed that many small business owners don’t know about brand style guides and don’t have one. I am writing about this today to explain why it’s so important to have one. When I work on redesigning a website or creating marketing materials for a new client, I need to know what fonts, colors, graphics, and style of images she uses in order to create brand consistency. I find that most mid to large sized companies already have a brand style guide that they provide to me when I start to work on their marketing materials. This ensures that anybody who works on a design project maintains brand consistency. Branding isn’t just for large companies. Small businesses can also create a brand with its own unique personality. If you have a plan to grow your business, a brand style guide is essential.

Brand Style Guide

Here are some elements that should be included in the style guide.

Brand story

A simple summary, mission statement, and vision will give people an understanding of your company and also tells them what your brand stands for. Also keep in mind who your target audience is, as well as what style of brand personality you have. Are you funny or serious? Do you like to use a little humor? These are ways to help people understand your brand as well. 

Logo

A logo is an important part of your brand element, so make sure to include the final version (primary and secondary logos*) and the following:

  • Minimum size and proper proportions of logo

  • Clear instructions of space around logo

  • Variations in colors, back & white and reversed

  • Images how you don’t want to your logo to be

Over time you may change your logo slightly as many companies do. Make sure to keep the latest logo in your style guide up-to-date.

*A Secondary or sub mark logo is derived from your main logo. It’s typically smaller than your logo and is frequently used as a favicon or profile picture. A sub mark logo is particularly useful for companies with long business names.

Color palette

Brand color is an important element of the brand identity. People frequently identify your brand through its colors. There are different types of color modes used for different purposes. Using a correct color mode and breakdown of colors is important for brand consistency.  

  • Color match for print: PANTONE name and number

  • Colors for print: CMYK

  • Colors for web: RGB and HEX codes

Typography

Fonts are an important part of any brand collateral you create. To maintain brand consistency, it’s essential to be consistent with your typography. Brand fonts are usually selected from two different fonts (serif and sans-serif) along with additional styling and sizing below:

  • Font selections and style (capital letters, uppercase letters or small case)

  • Alignment (right, left, or centered)

  • Tracking and kerning ratios to maintain a consistent style when font size changes

Imagery and graphics

People can recognize a brand based on the style of the images used. Custom graphics, patterns, or photography should reflect your brand voice and style. The imagery needs to align with your brand’s fonts and colors.

The benefit of creating a style guide is that you can see the total look of your brand style and voice. If it doesn’t feel or look like your brand, you can mend it. Once it’s complete, you can refer to this guide every time new brand collateral is created. When your brand continues to send the same message with the same style, your target audience will easily recognize your brand which will help increase your sales.

 

Here are some great examples of corporate brand style guides for some inspiration.

Alienware 

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Adobe Brand Style Guide
Lacoste Brand Style Guide
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Here is a simple brand style guide template that I created. Please feel free to download here and create your own style guide to build your brand awareness.