A brand style guide is the heart and soul of your brand – your mission, vision and values. The style guide transfers these into the design. So how do you create one? We show you!
A brand style guide is a document that defines how a company presents itself to the world. In other words, it’s an informational tool that helps maintain consistency by showing how the brand looks, feels and sounds. He’s so influential that some people even refer to him as a trademark bible, but do not let that intimidate you. These are just different names for the same document.
Using it makes sure that your brand always feels and looks the same, even if very different people are working in customer service, marketing, design or sales.
Why is a brand style guide so important?
Consider your brand identity as the personality of your business. That’s how the world recognizes you and begins to trust you. When you see someone changing their looks and behaving differently, you will never feel they really know and you will not trust them.
Imagine a colleague who always wears his shirt in his pants and has a well-fitting hairstyle. Now imagine, the same person comes to work unshaven one day and wears cut-off jeans and suddenly has a tattoo with a tiger on a motorcycle flames. It’ll probably feel weird because you do not know him like that. Maybe you even ask him if everything is alright.
The same logic applies to brands: impermanence will confuse and alienate customers. A style guide is important because it helps your organization communicate consistency across teams and channels.
Together, they are the most important things you need to commit to your brand identity, because they tell the world what you stand for. All other parts of your brand style guide are tangible elements that use design to convey these key components of the world.
Mission Statement darüber, weshalb dein Unternehmen existiert und ein Vision Statement darüber, wohin du dein Unternehmen führen willst. Mission and Vision: Write a mission statement about why your business exists and a vision statement about where you want to run your business. These can be big (you’ll change the world) or small (it will solve a small, annoying problem) as long as they apply to your brand.
We have just emailed you the first lesson.
Audience: Describe who your customers are and why they need you (for example, how your products solve their problems). If you’ve done market research, get all the insights that could help your team communicate better with your customers.
Personality: Make a list of 3-5 adjectives that describe your brand. This will set your tone for design and written matters. Are you cultured or unconventional? Classic or modern? Ask your team for input and views.
Grundprinzipien für Entscheidungen und Handlungen deines Unternehmens. Values: Describe the basic principles for your company’s decisions and actions. Memorable values make it easy for your team to act in line with your brand.
1. Collect inspirations for your style guide
You certainly know the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Prepare for your brand style guide by collecting landmarks that fit the brand. Rebranding von 99designs hat jedes Team eine Pinterest-Seite erstellt, um zu zeigen, was ihnen die Kernwerte bedeuteten. For the 99designs rebranding , each team created a Pinterest page to show what the core values meant to them. This is a great exercise that involves many people in the business and creates an entry-level opportunity.
Think about it:
- What has worked for your brand in the past? Collect examples of successful ads, e-mails, direct mail, etc.
- What do other brands do that you like?
- Which questions come up again and again? Follow recurring feedback. If you feel like telling the same things to your designers and writers, it may make sense to write it in the style guide.
This will give you concrete examples to define the look of your brand.
Write down what you like and what you do not like (eg the picture fits the brand, but the text does not). You may be using this material for the images or voice of your brand.
2. Define the 6 essential elements that should be in each brand style guide
Once you’ve gathered your inspiration, it’s time to work with a designer to put it all together. Choose a designer with good communication and who you feel comfortable with. Brand design is a process of discovery and your designer will be your partner in this process. He may have ideas that you have not yet considered.
There are six essential elements that belong in every brand style guide. These should have top priority for you and your designer. You might already have some of that (like your logo). But for the other things, you should get inspiration again. A designer will help you turn these moods, feelings and images into tangible brand elements.
Element 1: Brand History
Introduce your brand to the world. A simple summary will give people an insight into the heart and soul of your business and help them understand how the brand should be portrayed.
The five key components we discussed earlier – mission, vision, audience, personality, and values - can all be included. Or you decide to share some of them with the public.
Consider what you include by thinking about what would be the most useful landmark.
Element 2: Logo
welche Farbe dein Logo haben sollte , aber weißt du, wie es in unterschiedlichen Umgebungen aussehen wird? Maybe you already know what color your logo should have , but do you know what it will look like in different environments? This part of your style guide ensures that your logo will be used as you intended. It also prevents errors – such as stretching, changes, compression, or reorientation – which could convey a false message.
Include all approved versions of your logo, describe when which logo should be used, and show visual examples to clarify it.
- Size: List the smallest size and the right proportions.
- Distance: If your logo needs a certain amount of white space, give clear and clear instructions.
- Colors: Show different variations (inverted, in color, black and white) and say when to use them.
- Dont’s: It may be just as important to show how your logo should not be used.
Item 3: color palette
Speaking of colors. Defining a color palette for your brand will do much to create a consistent “look and feel”. Most brands choose four or less main colors and barely differ from the colors of their logo.
It is always a good idea to choose a light color for backgrounds, a darker color for texts, a neutral hue and one that stands out. Heineken adheres exactly to this rule of thumb.
Show pattern of your brand colors in your style guide. Make sure you include all the necessary information to accurately reproduce these colors.
Element 4: Typography
Another important part of identity design is the font selection . The requirements of your brand will dictate whether a font family will cover all of your needs or if you need to define multiple fonts for your brand. A good rule of thumb is to use a font other than your logo because the contrast will help stand out. An experienced designer can help you with this process.
No matter how simple or complex your typing scheme is, make sure it’s used correctly everywhere by explaining the choices and giving clear directions for use.
- Introduce it: Tell the story of the typeface you’re using, what its relationship to your brand is and what it’s used for (headlines, body text, subtitles, etc.).
- Alignment: Say clearly if you want text always to be right, left or center aligned.
- Spacing : Insert the track and undercuts to maintain consistency as the font size changes.
Element 5: Images
If it’s your own business, you have a natural instinct for which photos and illustrations are right for your brand. ! The choice of images in your style guide will steer everything else in the right direction, without you having to do much for it !
You can do this in different ways. You can even use some of the inspiration you have gathered to prepare for your style guide!
- The best application: Show examples of images that worked well for your brand. Make sure you address the main ways your business communicates, whether it’s catalogs or an Instagram account.
- Expectation: If you do not have an example for everything, find things that feel good with other brands. This will give your team a sense of the style that they want it to be, and it never hurts to go high!
- Moodboard: Collect images that convey the feeling your customers should have when they are dealing with your brand.
Element 6: Voice
Writing style does not always come to mind first when thinking of brand identity, but the voice of your brand has a strong impact on how your audience thinks about you.
Just like the pictures, you can tackle this in different ways.
- The best application: If you have messages that work well for you, show these examples here.
- Build Your Personality: Do you remember the list of 3-5 adjectives that describe your brand personality? Use them to choose the type of language that suits your brand.
- Do’s and Dont’s: Sometimes that’s just the best. Choose words you like and words you do not like to clearly demonstrate the voice of your brand.
3. Make a list of other brand elements that your business needs to define
While almost every company will need the six essential elements in a brand style guide, some still need to go further.
- Is your brand primarily digital? Then you probably need to explain what layout your pictures have on your website.
- Do you sell material products? Maybe you need packaging guidelines that explain when to use the product name and when to use the company name.
- Are you concentrating on social media marketing? Then you may need some guidelines on which images to use in your posts.
A brand style guide should fit the company to which it belongs. Start by creating a list of additional items that must be included in your style guide. Here are a few tips for getting good ideas:
4. Outline and create your guide
Take your 6 essential elements, combine them with all company-specific needs and create an overview! This will help to determine the structure of your guide.
- brand history
- Hello, here is the COMPANY. We do that.
- These are our mission, vision and values.
- Here is our logo and that means it.
- How to use our logo.
- How not to use our logo.
- color palette
- These are our colors.
- Here are nice patterns with CMYK and HEX codes.
- These are the fonts we use and reasons why we chose them.
- This is our main font.
- This is our second font. Uhhh, how nice!
- These are pictures that fit our brand.
- Here is her layout
- That’s how we talk.
- Here are our do’s and don’ts.
- This is what our website looks like and you should do that on it.
- This is how we represent products.
Once you have an overview, decide if your guide should be printed, PDF or online. You and your designer, you should talk about everything (horizontal or vertical layout, page size, etc). And off you go!
Do not forget, this should be a working document. You want to make sure that all the essential information is easy to find (perhaps with a table of contents?) And very clear.
5. Plan for further development
Your brand style guide is a living, breathing document. You’ll find out what works while you use it, and you can always add or change things. The important thing is to have a solid base.
But you should also think about it at regular intervals.
Choose a place to gather new ideas (new decisions that have been made, new examples that you like, etc) so that you can easily find them when it’s time to renew them. Then plan when you think over and overwork your style guide. You can do that once a month, once a quarter or a year.
You are ready to create a brand style guide!
Your business is more than just the product it sells. A strong brand tells people why they should choose you. A brand style guide tells your team how to stay true to this brand.
While some style guides are as fat as a novel, others have only one side. Everything depends on the needs of your business. It is important that it lists all important elements of your brand and serves as a guide for any future design project.
We have just emailed you the first lesson.