Your brand is the face of your business. So it’s important to know why your business needs a Style Guide. But what is a style guide? How do you make one and is it really that important?
I’m here to tell you friend, it really is!
A style guide, is simply a document that defines how your brand will be represented visually.
It defines a few key elements like your logo, palette, typography and graphics. In more complex versions, it can also reference grammar, the usage of your logo, photography and much more.
Above all else, it simplifies a lot of processes for you.
Here’s an example:
You need to build a Facebook Ad, quick! You’re not a designer so you don’t know where to start. What do you include in an ad? How do you even begin to build it?
With a style guide, half the work is done for you.
A style guide will tell you what colors you need to stick to, what fonts you have to use and it can even tell you the types of graphics you can use. If it’s a really in depth style guide like some companies use, it’ll even define logo placement, relations between different elements in your marketing materials and many other things.
With all this information already decided for you, the task of building this ad suddenly gets lighter. Now you can focus on your message and how to lay it out. All of your other decisions are made for you.
And that my friend, is why your business needs a style guide.
THE VALUE IN A STYLE GUIDE
However, the value in a style guide isn’t only in that it can speed up your content creation. Setting guides for your brand keeps it consistent. Consistency promotes a professional image that your audience will start to recognize. Boom! Brand recognition! Another reason why your business needs a style guide!
There are many different types of style guides. Some go to great lengths to anticipate every decision you could possibly be faced with when creating new marketing materials. These types of style guides usually belong to big corporations that have a lot of people handling different aspects of their brand like their website, printed collateral, email campaigns, social media, etc.
The good news is, you can make your style guide as easy or as complicated as you like. Keep in mind, the more information you put into it, the more helpful it’ll be.
Here’s a sample of the style guide I use when I’m branding a small business.
This is a company I’m currently branding. They’re a jewelry shop that is looking to expand their Etsy store into their very own Shopify store*.
Elizabeth, the owner of Three Little Pixies, wants to rebrand, specifically changing the logo and color palette. So I’m taking this opportunity to build her a style guide that she can then use when she has to create new marketing materials. These might include images for her Facebook timeline or Ads, her Instagram feed, posts for her Pinterest and new collateral for a grand opening sale she’s planning to advertise.
Since we’ve established the new brand look and the style guide is pretty much done, I’ve been using it as I build her site. It makes it much quicker to look up colors and pick out elements when they’re all grouped together in one document.
I also don’t have to spend time figuring out things like typography while I’m building the site because I’ve already made those decisions and recorded my choices in the style guide. If I need different colors for other areas of the site, I have a color palette that I worked on and can easily pick the colors right from the file.
It significantly speeds up my process and takes a lot of guesswork out of the equation. It really just saves me a ton of time.
Hopefully, you’re starting to see why your business needs a style guide.
HOW TO MAKE A STYLE GUIDE
Making a style guide is very simple. In fact, there are many style guide templates out there to help you out. I’ve included the one that I use to make things easier for you. You can grab that by clicking below.
Let’s go over the basic elements of this style guide you’re downloading.
Your logo represents your entire brand. Drop it in to make sure it’s readily available to anyone that needs to work on your brand. If you have specific guidelines regarding your logo, you should include them here.
Include hexadecimal values for each of the colors you include in your guide. If you have secondary or accent colors, include those as well in the smaller circles and make sure it’s clear which colors are your main colors and which are accents.
MINI LOGOS OR ALTERNATES
In many instances, specially for web and social profiles, you will need some type of logo alternate. Specifically, you will need a square version of your logo and also a version of your logo that reads well when it’s scaled down to 16px X 16px. This will be for your favicon, the small logo you see on the address bar on your browser. If you have a stacked version of your logo or any other type of variation, include it here.
Define the main typefaces you will use for your brand, typically no more than 3-4. Establish what you’re using as headings, subheadings and body text. In addition, you can establish colors for links and buttons used on your site as well as any other type treatments you might work with.
Select the graphics that you will use for your brand. This can include a library of icons that you can reference or graphic elements that can be used for different applications. If you do have a library of graphics, make sure that everyone that will be creating content for you has access to it.
You can certainly add more guidelines and get very specific about how you want to represent your brand visually.
While the template I’ve created for you is a basic guide, it will serve as a great starting point. I’m sure you’ll find that comes in very handy as you’re building your content. I’ve found that small businesses get along fine with a basic guide like this. It tends to be much more than most folks out there have for their brands as it’s not something they give importance to.
So if you’re starting out or even if you’ve been in business for a while but don’t have a style guide, make it a priority to create one. Stop what you’re doing, download this style guide for yourself and carve out some time to make these decisions for your brand. The next time you need to create content for you business, you’ll be very happy you did it.
* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I ONLY endorse products that I have used myself and am very happy with.