One of the key parts of building your business is to create a memorable and recognisable brand that stays on your dream client mind, to achieve that is important to create a consistent brand identity that reflects your brand values in all the elements your business produces.
On that point is when comes one of the most important documents for every business and company and it is the brand style guide, a document that contains all the information about mission, vision and brand values of your business translated into graphic design and branding elements related to your brand.
The brand style guide is a rulebook every business have that contain all the specifications on every element that has a role in the look and feel of your brand and how it will be shown to the world through graphic design elements as logo design, font and color palette and brand and identity elements as brand voice or brand values.
To build a good brand style guide first we need to start with the grounds and explain what is exactly a brand style guide and how to use it, and as mentioned it contains all the required information related to a brand and identity of your business serving as a reference tool to every worker of your brand on how to use brand design in every content produced by the brand from stationery to social media imagery to maintain brand consistency.
To understand why brand guidelines are important for any business is safe to say that it is like a brand bible as it contains all your brand identity and specifies your brand personality making clear how it must be used from all the member of your business to show the world a cohesive brand identity that stays consistent to their brand personality traits.
Imagine that you see a Netflix ad using their logo design in a purple or green color, you will be confused right?, well, that is what is brand style guide about, to create a specific design and branding standards across all teams in your company to reflect your brand message and feelings you want that your brand is associated across all channels and all the content produced by the company.
The first step to build a good brand style guide is to understand your brand, know what are your brand mission, vision target audience, brand personality and brand core values, these are the key elements of a brand identity that will allow your brand create a strong message that you want to tell the world.
Once you have decided all the elements that form your brand identity you need to show them through visual elements and those must be aligned with your brand identity design to connect with your target audience using psychology in graphic design that is why you need to include visual branding guide in your style manual.
Logo design is one of the most important parts of your brand and identity design project as it will be a visual representation of your brand, that is why it needs to be memorable and easy to stay in your target audience minds if you want to know what are the qualities of a good logo design you can check this post.
In your branding style guide, you need to show how your logo design should be used and the allowed variations of it to maintain the brand consistency through years and help the viewers to identify and memorize your brand logo.
Regarding color palette in your brand identity project, you should have in count color theory and color psychology to create a distinctive color palette that will represent your brand values and feelings you want to transmit wit your visual branding elements if you want to know more deeply how to create a strong brand color palette you can check this post.
You need to show your brand color palette with HEX code, RGB and CMYK Values in your style guide and how they should be used through your graphic design elements, it also a good option to include some complementary colors that are not included on your color scheme to identify which colors are allowed to use through your visual branding elements.
Your brand will produce different contents that will include texts and headlines, that is why you need to identify what fonts will be used for titles and body text at the same time that if your brand logo has your company name on it, what font you have used on it.
Choose a font combination that will work well together and have good readability, you can use font psychology principles to determine what typography style you will use to ensure your brand values through tex and if you want to learn more about font psychology you can check this post.
When we talk about brand identity design, we think about logo design, brand color scheme and font scheme, but it’s also very important what visual branding guides you will use across all the brand content, this includes photography, icons, textures, backgrounds and complementary elements.
Icons, backgrounds and textures should follow your brand color scheme rules and the photography you choose to use across your content or marketing campaigns should be aligned with your visual identity standards and be cohesive with your brand personality.
Now it’s time to start building our branding style guide to unify all the graphic elements and visual assets of your business into brand usage guidelines, your style guide must include the 6 essential elements of brand style manual that are brand Story, Logo Design, color palette, typography, brand imagery and brand voice
It’s good in any brand style guide to first introduce your brand to the world and what is all about, show the people the heart and soul from your business, this will help them to understand your brand identity better and how to represent it.
On brand story step you cab include the 5 key elements of a brand identity that we saw previously on this post that are mission, vision, audience, brand personality and brand values, you can include them all or just some of them. Many brands uses brand archetypes to build their brand identity and determine their brand tone, you can learn more about it on this post.
Your brand logo is a fundamental element from your brand identity and that is why is very important to take care on how it would be used across different platforms, sizes, colors, etc, to reflect a consistent brand and maintain your brand message.
By including logo design specifications on your brand guidelines you ensure that your brand logo is used in the way you want and prevents mistakes as altering the original logo design. You need to include on your brand style guide all the approved versions from your logo, when to use each version and add visual examples on how they should be used. Your brand style guidelines should include this information about your logo design usage:
Apart from the approved variations from your logo design, it’s well to add some examples of how not to use it as you can see on Spotify brand style guide for example
To build a consistent branding strategy is important to use color theory principles and define from the start your brand color palette and use it through all your brand content to create a cohesive brand design.
You need to define your primary color, secondary color and some extra complementary colors that can be used across your brand design elements in your brand style guide to maintain a cohesive brand colors, you also can determine allowed color combinations in your brand guidelines as Netflix do.
When you define you core brand colors in the brand style guide you need to be very clear and include the HEX Codes, RGB Values, CMYK Code and Pantone if it’s required to assure that your brand colors are the same across all environments printed or digital.
If you need more tips on how to choose your brand colors you can check this post!
Font selection is a crucial part of any brand style guide, as you need to maintain a cohesive brand identity design and you will produce numerous brand content and you need to define and determine what typeface family you will use on each content and purpose.
Define what font you will use for your title and headlines and what font you will use for body text to assure the good readability, it’s also important to create a Typography hierarchy making clear the font style, weight, size text color and styles for paragraphs. In your brand style guidelines, you also need to make clear how the text will be aligned and spacing including tracking and kerning for the fonts.
Explain why you have chosen that fonts and you can use Font Psychology to determine your typography scheme and use unconscious associations to transmit your brand message using the visual style of the text.
With the importance of social media, this step is very important, as your business will produce numerous brand content across different platforms it’s important that the images, patterns, illustrations and icons related to your brand follows brand identity standards that are aligned with your brand personality and visual identity.
Your brand imagery should follow your brand style, color scheme and content to ensure the perception of the target audience of your brand, you can show it in your brand style manual in different ways but the best is to show it in a visual way making clear what images are ok and which not to use.
The writing style guide is a key element of every brand guidelines, we already have seen how to transmit your brand identity through visual elements, but it’s also important to transmit it through your brand tone, how your brand would talk to your audience?
Having a consistent brand voice will help your business to ensure your brand message and you can define your brand voice in style guidelines showing a list of do’s and don’ts for grammar, punctuation, spelling, naming, vocabulary and tone to make clear how your want to talk with your brand, a good example is Shopify writing style guide.
Now we have seen the core elements for a good brand style guidelines that should be present on all brand manuals but every company is different and some of them would need to include more specifications depending on what they do.
As we saw across the post it’s important for every business to have a good and clear brand style guidelines to assure that your brand identity is showed correctly and consistent across all your brand content, that is why you need to specify everything on your brand manual to make it easier for everybody in the company to produce the content aligned with your identity.
Hope you find this post useful and learn how to create a cohesive brand style guide to show the world what is your brand about and why they should choose your brand, use a brand manual to stay true to your brand, Every brand style guide is unique and every company will need more or fewer details about how to use their brand elements depending on the quantity of content they produce.
If you found this post useful you might like to read these post about Graphic Design Inspiration.
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