Let’s talk style guides! Now that you’ve got your brand colors, typography, and logo ready, it’s time to put it all together. Chances are – unless you’re a designer yourself – you’re going to hire a professional designer for the final branding process. The designer will put together all your research into your dream brand, but to do that, they need a style guide. A style guide helps them understand your vision for your brand. Launch Marketing defines it as “a document that provides guidelines for the way your brand should be presented from both a graphic and language perspective.”
So what should be in your style guide?
Well, that all depends on you, you’re free to be as specific or as vague as you want. Be warned though, if you are too specific, the designer may not have space to interpret your guidelines freely. If you’re too vague, the designer’s interpretation may end up varying from your vision. Here are some items commonly included in a style guide.
Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? What do you hope to do? Your brand is a projection of your company so, appropriately, you should start your style guide defining what your company is and why your company exists. Your mission statement influences your brand. Start your guide with it so that your designer can understand what your company is about and use that understanding to build your brand.
An audience description, also known as consumer persona, is your ideal consumer. It could include details like your ideal audience’s age, occupation, gender, and challenges related to your product (i.e. you could include reasons why this person would want to use your product or list possible problems they might have that can be solved with your product/services.)
Your brand colors should be included in this section. For this it would be best if you include a sample of the colors then include the RGB code, the CMYK codes, and the name (hex code), if applicable, below it. Here is the color section of a sample style guide I made:
I drew small boxes in a word document and filled them with my chosen colors. The first line below each of the colors is the CMYK value. The line after that is the RGB values of the colors. The last line is the hexadecimal code of the colors. It is important to include the CMYK, RGB, and hexadecimal values because depending on the medium (print, digital, web, etc) CMYK and RGB values of the same color may render differently.
Check out Netflix’s guidelines for the use of color in its logo:
Here you should not only include the typefaces you have selected for your brand, but you should also include how you want the text to appear on various mediums. You can specify the preferred hierarchy of text (i.e. the sizes and weight of parts of the text such as the body text, heading text, etc.); an area you want the text to be e.g. if you prefer the text on your flyers to be at the bottom left of the page; or the positioning of imagery.
Try listing the typefaces like this:
Type the names of the typefaces in the fonts you’ve chosen e.g. type “Time New Roman Bold” in Times New Roman Bold font and so on. Also if you choose a font family, type out each of the fonts included i.e. Arial Bold, Arial Light, etc.
Tone of Voice
This refers to what your brand sounds like. Describe your brand’s ‘voice’ whether playful, shy, bold, etc. This will give designers deeper insight into your brand and enable them to make successful suggestions for improvement of your brand.
It is important to remember that your style guide should not be too rigid or too vague. It should be an outline for a designer who will then fill in the rest. You can add whatever you feel would help whoever is reading it better understand your vision for your brand.
Also, your style guide can also help copywriters create a great ad copy for your business, help with website design, creating a slogan, and so on. Having a sense of what you want to use your style guide for will help you know what to include in it. You can easily create a style guide in Microsoft Word and there are various templates available online to use.
Let PivotPath help you create a style guide for your brand and maximize your presence. Contact us for a consultation today!
Lois Olowoyo is a telecommunication-production major at the University of Florida and an avid storyteller. When she’s not writing a story of her own or acting one out, she can be found listening to, watching, or reading someone else’s story. You can learn more about her and view her work at loisolowoyo.wordpress.com. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.