A style guide may be required for any business, whether it’s just starting out, undergoing rebranding, or catching up to the present day.
A style guide is a set of regulations that you provide to your staff and clientele. In every workplace, time is of the essence, so a style guide will save time for your designers, creative team, and clients. It may also force you to clarify your brand, which is: “What exactly is my brand all about?”
Examine what’s working and what’s not.
Take a look at what top companies like Amazon and Apple are doing with their style guides. These businesses have a reason for publishing their style guides in the open, and you should too. Take a look at how free (or tight) these logos are to modify. Look at how many typefaces they’re using, as well as the sorts of fonts. How many words are there to describe their brand in a nutshell? What way? Choose and choose features from each style guide that your firm will need to put into practice.
If you work in a tiny trinket store in a downtown shopping area, perhaps you don’t need a 50-page document describing how to utilise an appropriate grid layout for your website, but you may need to pick between several colour palettes for your storefront signage.
Your company’s logo is the star of the show.
Logos are the most important element of your visual branding, and they should be well represented in your style guide. Make sure to describe how the logo should be utilised, whether it’s one or many variations. Describe what sorts of backgrounds should and shouldn’t be used with the logo. Is it okay to use a patterned background? Is it just acceptable for you to choose certain photos or patterns that make your logo stand out in a design? Whatever your standards, you should show how to properly and incorrectly display your logo. Make sure to make it clear and succinctly that your logo should not be tampered with in any manner. This might restrict the amount of creativity available to you, but setting forth your norms from the start may prevent people from “Frankensteining” it.
Don’t Forget Your Fonts
It’s great to have a wide range of typefaces, but make sure they’re well-chosen and clearly defined. It’s all too easy to mix and match typefaces for advertising or other distinct items connected with your brand. Make sure your style guide has fonts that are adaptable and useful enough to meet all of your various demands (so you don’t have a one-night encounter with Comic Sans).
Because most fonts are not available on all computers, it’s critical to provide your designer or customer with a download link in your style guide. Definitely do so if your font is unique to your business. Never offer a typeface that you don’t own the right to.
Refine Your Voice
Any brand must have unique and interesting content in order to sell. It establishes your business’s voice, the voice that customers hear when visiting your website or reading your advertising copy. Your voice should sound like a well-informed buddy (but not a pompous know-it-all attempting to sell your audience something they don’t need). Because not all of your company’s materials will be authored by one person, content standards are necessary for your style guide. Make sure the tone of your brand is pleasant and consistent across communications.
It’s understandable for designers to be wary of your style guide because it may stifle their creativity (and it does). However, giving concise explanations of your branding choices might persuade them otherwise. Don’t be too descriptive; a fifty-page research paper on why Helvetica is the only font for your company, for example, would be frightening and useless in conveying your point of view. Short, succinct paragraphs that address style choices create authority and assist designers and writers understand your viewpoint.
Share It Internally
After you’ve established a style guide, the next step is to figure out how to distribute it. Don’t put it on your website right away. Have a meeting first and devise a strategy for implementing your rules in your company’s regular operations. Send this to anybody who may be associated with your brand, whether they’re creating innovative content, building your website, or sending emails to consumers. Before releasing your guide into the public arena, double-check all of the boxes in your internal communications. You can decide whether to make it available on your website for the general public or keep it internal after.
Don’t Give Up—Update!
Trends in typefaces are always shifting, and the current fashionable font will most likely be Times New Roman by the end of next year. Have a meeting at least once a year to update your brand. This might be as simple as changing the images on your website or as elaborate as a complete branding makeover. Make branding a constant, but not an all-consuming priority. You can’t be too brand consistent if you want to attract consumers who are searching for what you have to offer. Make your branding adaptable from the start, and keep it current as needed.