One of the most important things to have in a business, whether it is a small family owned business or a huge corporate entity, is a brand style guide. A brand style guide is essentially the DNA of a business. It holds the framework for every aspect of the business as a brand.
When building a new business or brand, the first thing is usually to come up with a logo or identity that fits the desired look and feel for your business. This is where you establish exactly how you want your business to be perceived; you set the tone, colors and font style for the logo and the business itself. Once all the creative decisions are set, they are put into a brand style guide. A style guide works as the rules and regulations for your brand. It shows how you and others incorporate your brand in all forms of collateral and your digital presence. These rules are to make sure that your brand is never represented in an undesirable manner and that the same look and feel is always present and consistent. You want people to recognize your brand and see you as a legitimate business. Having many inconsistencies in your branding could be the cause of your business being perceived in the wrong way or people may not take it as a legitimate business.
Most brand style guides consist of similar things but how in depth they are depends on the business and is usually determined by the size of the company. Larger companies may have more rules and stipulations for every aspect of their branding; where a smaller business may just want colors and typefaces to be consistent.
Below are some of the more common items included in a brand style guide:
A brand style guide should include the brand logo and any variations of that logo that could possibly be used; the primary and any secondary logos or monograms. There are usually some sizing guidelines; the minimum size for logo use or the size in relation to other elements. It is also important to state where the logo can be placed, over solid colors only or images, and how much space is needed when it is near other elements. There should also be examples of how not to use the logo, stretching or skewing, changing the colors, or placing them on hard to read backgrounds.
The primary, secondary and tertiary colors should all be showcased and if possible all their color codes should be included so people know exactly how to find the exacts. Most common is the use of a hex code, but it is also important to include all other color codes such as RGB, CMYK and Pantone. It should also show the correct usage of the colors. Possible single colored, all white, or all black logos should also be included in the guide.
Any typefaces used in the branding should be included. There should also be guidelines as to how to use them; which typeface works for body content or which works for headings. Including guidelines for the size of certain things like headings relative to body content is also important. If something requires the use of full caps, it should be noted.
Extra Design Elements:
This is all the extra design elements that can be used throughout any form of collateral; sometimes it includes special shapes or icons. There should also be a guide on how to use them or where to incorporate them. These elements can add a special quality to your branding, but using them sparingly and in unique ways is vital.
Click here to view an example of a simple style guide. This should serve as a starting place of the bare minimum needed to create a successful style guide.