Brand Style Guide 101

Create your own brand style guide with these helpful tips

A well-developed brand style guide is an essential tool for establishing brand identity. A brand style guide (also known as a brand book or brand guide) acts as a key document that helps content creators communicate a consistent message to your audience, so it’s a great asset for creating consistent, on-brand content.

Why is Brand Consistency Important?

Brand style guides can support marketing initiatives by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to your brand’s goals. Referencing a brand style guide ensures that content distinguishes a brand from its competitors, and is cohesive. This cohesion is important because it helps establish a strong brand voice that resonates with the audience, which is essential for building brand awareness. Over time, that awareness and consistency builds trust.

Studies have shown that we perceive brands as personifications of companies, and that can affect our buying decisions. We are also more likely to buy from brands we know, because they’re familiar and we’re all creatures of habit sometimes. Through consistency in branding, your company will deliver and meet the expectations of your customer.

Since a style guide defines the guidelines for maintaining a brand’s identity, it’s important to spend the time and resources to get it right.

Key Components of a Brand Style Guide

Before you create a style guide, you need to know your brand. There are five key components: mission, vision, target audience, brand personality and core values.

Together, these are the most important things needed to establish your brand identity because they tell the world what you stand for. All the other parts of your brand style guide are tangible elements that communicate those key components to the world through design.

Six essential elements of any brand style guide

  1. Brand Story: A simple summary will give people insight into the heart and soul of your company, which will help them understand how to represent your brand. This is where you can include the key component we discussed earlier – mission, vision, target audience, brand personality and core values.
  2. Logo: Include all approved versions of your logo, describe when to use each one, and show visual examples to make it really clear.
  3. Colour Palette: Defining a brand palette will go a long way towards creating a consistent look and feel. Most brands choose four or fewer main colors and don’t stray too far from the hues of their logo.

Make sure to include the information needed to reproduce those colours accurately, wherever your brand message goes.

  1. Typography: Your brand needs will dictate whether one typeface family will meet all your requirements or if you want to define multiple brand fonts. A good rule of thumb is to use a different font than the one in your logo, since the contrast will help it stand out.
  2. Imagery: When it’s your company, you have a natural instinct for which photos and illustrations are right for your brand. The imagery section in your style guide will steer everyone else in the right direction.
  3. Voice: Writing style doesn’t always jump to mind when thinking of brand identity, but brand voice strongly affects how your audience feels about you.

Your brand style guide is a living, breathing document. You will end up learning what works as you use it, and you can always add to it or adjust the information. The most important thing is to set a solid foundation by creating one. When your company goes through a brand redesign, you should always create a new brand style guide to go along with it. It’s the best way to announce the rebrand to your team and get everyone on-board with new design guidelines.