What’s a Style Guide and Why You Need One
September 27, 2022
Is your business using a style guide? If not, your brand’s integrity may be in jeopardy.
That may sound a bit extreme to some, but it doesn’t change the urgency. A style guide is much like your brand’s constitution and defines how your logo, colors, fonts, and other design elements may (and may not) be used.
Without this governing document in place, the application of your visual brand identity is up for interpretation and will likely be inconsistently represented across channels. And inconsistent branding—however unintentional—poses a serious threat to a growing business.
Whether the words “style guide” are new to you or if you’re already a bit familiar and want to learn more, you are in the right place. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of using a style guide, what a style guide should include, and tips for implementing its use within your organization.
A style guide is an essential tool for any business, big or small. It helps to create a consistent brand identity that can be recognized and respected by customers and clients. Additionally, a style guide can be a great way to get everyone on the same page and present a united front to your target audience. And it’s not just for big businesses—even small businesses and nonprofits can benefit from having a clearly defined brand style guide. Let’s dive in!
What is a Style Guide and What Does it Include
A style guide is a document that provides branding and design guidelines for a company or organization. It is an essential tool for maintaining brand consistency across all marketing materials, and it should be used by everyone who creates content or designs for the company. Style guides can be simple or comprehensive, but they should always be easy to follow and use common language.
Here are some standard components of a branding style guide:
1. All versions of your logo—vertical, horizontal, color, black and white, etc.
2. Color palette—hex and RGB (red, green, and blue) values for each color, along with guidance on what colors that compliment and clash with your brand.
3. Typography—specific fonts and when to use the various versions, e.g. when to use the light font vs. the bold font.
4. Rules for how to use the logo, such as
- Don’t change the colors
- Don’t squish or squeeze it
- Don’t put drop shadows behind it
- Give it room to breathe
5. Use case for various applications— e.g. how to use the logo on social media vs. on the back of a sweatshirt.
By establishing a set of guidelines for your branding, you can ensure that every touchpoint—from your website to your business cards—sends a clear and consistent message. This makes your brand more recognizable and instills a sense of trust and professionalism.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, having a solid and coherent brand identity is more important than ever. Without it, your company’s look and feel can become muddled and confusing, which is clearly bad for business.
The Benefits of Having a Style Guide
A detailed style guide will strengthen your brand and give everyone with access to it the guidelines needed to represent your company with the highest degree of professionalism and quality. This united front will boost trust and loyalty between your company and your customers.
The most obvious benefit of using a style guide is establishing consistency across all channels, from digital to print. But moreover, a style guide creates a cohesiveness that makes your brand identity easy to recognize. With a style guide in place, you can rest assured that only approved designs will be used to promote your business.
Another benefit of utilizing a style guide is that you can easily pass it on to a vendor you’re outsourcing to for company t-shirts, tumblers, marketing pieces etc.
At their best, style guides provide protection for your brand. Some people see them simply as a reference sheet (what’s the hex for the blue in our logo) and not a standard that needs to be followed on all materials. But when the entire organization embraces it as a document to unite and elevate your corporate image, you’ll be thankful you took the time to create it!
Tips for Following Your Style Guide
Benefits aside, a style guide will do you no good if no one knows it exists. Many businesses have style guides, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is following them!
There is a bit of training that needs to be involved to ensure your style guide is working the way it’s intended. You must be committed to training your team and holding them accountable to follow through.
Make sure everyone who needs it has access to it, and hold regular training sessions to review the guidelines. This will help ensure that all your marketing materials look and feel like they belong to the same brand.
It also helps to have a brand manager in place who is responsible for quality control and to ensure that no one goes rogue.
Need Help With a Branding Style Guide?
A style guide is a great way to ensure that all of your marketing materials have a consistent and professional look. By following your style guide, you can avoid costly mistakes and produce high-quality content that represents your brand well. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you create or update your style guide, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you get started on the path to better branding!