Recognizable and consistent brands have one thing in common. They all stick to a brand style guide. Your style guide for visual and voice elements defines your brand elements and how they should be used across marketing materials.
The critical document helps your business communicate consistent messaging and visuals to your audience. It can state the distance your brand logo should be from the edge, dictate how copy is to be written, and even define the photography style that should be used.
A well-developed style guide is a crucial tool for establishing brand identity. With it, you can expand and grow your overall brand presence. After all, customers see roughly 6,000 to 10,000 ads daily, and only a fraction of those stick to your target audience, no matter how great your marketing strategy is.
The key to developing a strong brand is creating a cohesive style guide, infusing your unique brand personality – from the color palette to logos and imagery to brand voice and tone – into each element of marketing and communication. Create a style guide and save your brand a lot of time and frustration. A consistent brand identity helps build trust and 88% of today’s customers prioritize brand authenticity.
What is a Brand Style Guide?
A style guide is a document that provides guidelines on how a brand should be presented from both a language and graphic perspective. It is a digital rulebook that governs a company’s branding design, composition, and general look and feel.
The purpose of a brand style guide is to ensure that there is a clear and cohesive guide that reflects the corporate style for content creators and ensures brand consistency from design to writing.
Think of the most recognizable brands you have encountered. Chances are you’ve learned to easily recognize them because of the consistency across their messaging, whether written or visual. Their language sounds familiar. The same brand colors are reflected across their messaging. And it’s all quite organized, and while not rigid, the style is cohesive.
Why A Style Guide Is Important
Brand style guides communicate various things about your brand, both externally and internally. Your style guide is a resource that communicates your company’s design standards for the whole group. The document gives your writers, designers, and developers a solid framework to apply as a starting point for their work.
Style guides can bolster marketing initiatives by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to the brand’s goals. With a style guide as a reference for expected standards, you’ll be able to create cohesive content that distinguishes the brand from its competitors.
Cohesion is crucial because it helps build a strong brand voice that resonates with your audience. Over time, this consistency and cohesion build trust and brand awareness which can affect buying decisions. Buyers also desire authenticity in a brand’s content, with 80% stating it as the primary factor on whether or not a consumer or prospect follows the brand on social platforms.
When your company redesigns the brand, it is crucial to create a new brand style guide to complement and go along with your brand redesign. It’s the best way to announce the design rebrand to your team and get everyone on the same page about the new design guidelines.
What Elements Are Included in a Style Guide?
A style guide should be an easy-to-read, succinct document. It starts with the brand’s mission statement and goes on to inform the brand’s look and feel as well as its tone of voice. A style guide often includes the following primary elements:
- Logo design and requirements (approved color variations, clear zone free of typography or other graphics, minimum size and placement, and possible variations.)
- Core color palette (CMYK/RGB/ Pantone colors)
- Typography (Typefaces and families such as uppercase, lowercase, italics and bold, font sizes, and the preferred font hierarchy and heading sizes)
- Imagery and visual examples
- Brand tone of voice
With these essential elements, you can create a comprehensive brand style guide that defines and represents your company and help make your brand recognizable and memorable.
7 Tips for Creating a Style Guide for Visual and Voice Elements
Creating a brand style guide can sometimes be frustrating, demanding, and time-consuming. Teams need to make many decisions, which means collaboration between individuals and teams is a prerequisite. But some crucial steps to follow while creating a style guide for visual and voice elements are as follows.
1. Design your logo and define guidelines for size, placement, and usage
Your logo is an essential part of your brand, and you want it to be a consistent aspect of every asset representing your company. It is the face of your brand and can be embedded into consumers’ minds. So remember to choose the right colors that match your brand.
Nonetheless, your brand style guide should not only include what you want to see in the logo but also dictate to your designers their limits and how they should use it. Designers are naturally creative, which deems it crucial to show them how not to use your brand logo and what they’re supposed to do or not do. Instructions should always be outlined and highlighted so that if there’s an issue, you can refer them to your style guide and show them where it clearly states how the logo should and shouldn’t look.
2. Pick a color palette
Humans are hardwired to respond to color since colors sway thinking and evoke reactions. They can be subtle but incredibly powerful. When used correctly, colors can persuade or attract prospects to your brand by triggering emotions, setting the tone, defining emphasis, etc.
A color palette is a mix of the primary and secondary color shades your company uses for visual branding. However, with different designers and for various platforms, color hues can easily change and be mistaken for the other. Thus an exact palette code is crucial for web use. You can use Pantone and CYMK colors for printable items.
Note that correct color coding is essential to ensure consistency. And the combination should be versatile enough to apply across different visual assets without becoming chaotic.
3. Choose a consistent font that reflects the uniqueness of your identity.
Fonts are critical in advertising as they serve as an effective tool to make a first impression that defines the rest of the design. Typography gives out a clear understanding of the message you wish to convey. Fonts are also a large part of any collateral produced, so ensure you are consistent with your typography, as it reveals your professionalism.
Often, you’ll have different typefaces, but your style guide can dictate what typeface to use, where, and how to use it. Brand fonts should contain headline, body, and personality fonts for designs.
It is also important to note that your style guide will greatly benefit if you show how sizing, kerning (the spacing between words and letters), and leading (the distance between text lines on a page) can work together. These elements are crucial to define since they create a voice and a tone of the message.
4. Select brand iconography to characterize your niche
Icons represent language-independent components of a design system and are quite helpful in setting your brand apart from others. They form the foundation for brand building and help convey a lot of useful and illustrated content.
A specific set of icons can be linked within the style guide to ensure proper use and to make them easier to find. Your style guide should include examples of icons and patterns to be used effectively –color preferences, size variations, and patterns. Note that color and pattern can be altered for various purposes, from a colorful tone symbolizing energy and fun to black and white for a more professional design. The icons’ illustrations should match the theme of the design.
5. Set your photography and videography style
Photography is your brand’s personality. Specific photography and videography styles evoke certain responses, and capturing the right images can give your brand recognition. Include your reference for imagery in your style guide for any photographers and videographers on your team to reference when working to achieve what you wish to see in your outputs.
A brand style guide also includes a style reference and specifications to ensure the photographer understands the brand’s concept and style direction. This makes collaboration with any videographer or photographer easier when you’ve already provided some examples.
6. Remember web-specific elements
Your website is the window to your company, and it’s a vital tool to engage, attract, and convert your prospects. Nearly half of marketing leaders are investing more in certain marketing strategies, such as a strong website, after experiencing success with their efforts in previous years.
In modern times, your brand needs to have a strong online presence to succeed and gain traction. Your website should look and feel like your brand as much as any product you market. The process can be automatic but remember that some rules are strictly applied online. Often, a website can include numerous pages that should look related.
So to maximize the effectiveness of your site, choose the website elements you want to display based on hierarchy and importance and include them in your style guide as the basis for future reference when working with a web designer. Your style guide is also likely to have examples of web elements that you don’t want to appear so that you provide an example of how it shouldn’t look like.
Web-specific elements like buttons and navigation bars should match your brand style guide for consistency. In addition, a funny, designed 404 page can help make light of an inconvenient situation.
7. Set the tone of voice for your brand
With a unique face and personality, you need to sound a certain way. Writers will do the trick and give you a unique voice for your brand. However, ensuring that only one individual is responsible for copywriting is not always possible. This is where your brand style guide comes in. It will help avoid difficulties related to wrong sounding or inappropriate language use. The style guide will dictate what you want your audience to hear without sounding off-brand.
Particular phrases and words that appear consistently can be included as well as the words to be avoided. Make your target audience clear to help you define the style of copy and how you want to sound.
Get The Help You Need From Romain Berg
A style guide is crucial to keep your brand identity recognizable, consistent and ownable even as different teams and individuals create content and develop digital products for your brand. Since a brand style guide defines the guidelines for building and maintaining identity, it’s essential to invest the resources and time to get it right. Schedule a free strategy call to get the help you need from the industry’s leading digital marketer Romain Berg.