Creating a Brand Style Guide: The Essentials

Ideally, a brand should be evolving on a continual basis, however it must retain it’s  vision throughout it’s changes. The key to the successful and sustainable evolution of a brand is remaining consistent. From logo design, color, typography and content – there must be a ‘gold standard’ with which to derive the core messaging, look and feel from.

Brand style guides set tonality and provide targeted guidelines and instructions to both internal and external teams on how the brand should be communicated and seen to the public across all media and touch points.

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What is a brand style guide?

A brand style guide, referred to in a myriad of ways – brand standards guideline, a style manual, brand bible or style guide –  is a set of design standards for the creation of creative assets. This guide is essential in presenting both digital and print media with a clearly defined view of the brand it represents.

Why use a brand style guide?

The use of brand standards help to keep internal teams on the same page as well as easing the process of communication with outside sources such as designers, contractors and consumers. The guide helps to ensure consistency, uniformity and authenticity for the brand wherever it is shown.

Elements of a Brand Style Guide

Overview

A high level view of the brand, it’s promise, values, proposition and brand positioning – this includes both vision and mission. These statements should be short and succinct, with key words, taglines and phrases highlighted.

Evolution

Brands are ever evolving, so it’s important to keep an updated style guide. The current style guide should reflect all branding in brief from previous years to show the development up to current day.

Logos & Icons

All variations of the logo – with alternate scale and colors indicated. Details should be precise for usage on both print and web, discussing logo and icon do’s and don’t.

Color & Typography

Type and color are the corner stone of a brand. Getting these right is essential, and helps to create a consistent, recognizable look and feel for the brand. Swatches of each color and hue used should be shown, as well as their colors: CMYK, Pantone, RGB and HEX codes.

Tonality

Brand voice is perhaps one of the most tricky elements to master. Whether writing for social media, campaign taglines or creative assets. Include examples from each platform as well as do’s and don’ts for each.

Whether a simple one page document, or an in depth dossier on the brand – the style guide is an essential part of optimizing both internal and external communications. Brands that engage in the development and creation of a style guide will benefit from a better understanding of their brand and a more authentic relationship with the marketplace.

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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2 Comments

  1. It does not however stop with the design especially with print. Paper makes a huge statement about the brand as well as print consistency and color management. All things are not created equal and when even the best guides are followed in the design process, your post design production processes are often a get what you pay for. Working with production facilities that adhere to strict color management guidelines and evaluate against a standard on EVERY job will insure that the Brand guide is not just a guide but rather a reality.

  2. I agree here with John on paper selection about making big impact on the brand perceptions. Selecting right paper and proper printing techniques plays a huge role not only on the brand manuals but also stationary and collateral materials as well as product packaging and accenting uniqueness of the packaged goods. Great points @john and @vanessa

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