If you are not familiar with the term, a style guide is essentially a book that holds everything about your brand, and your business needs a brand style guide. All the design aspects, who you are, what you represent, your personality… everything is packaged neatly in this one place, and let me tell ya, it makes your life a whole lot easier.
A brand style guide (see also brand book or brand guide) acts as a key document that helps give your brand a face and an identity while keeping consistency. A well-developed brand style guide is an essential tool for your business. It really doesn’t matter if you are not a designer, you still need one. In fact, if you hired a designer you can ask them for one! If not, let me walk you through why you need one and what the hell goes into one.
Why Exactly Does Your Business Need a Brand Style Guide?!
A brand style guide communicates your design ~aesthetic~ to all of your peers. That can include clients, followers, contributors, everyone who comes in contact with your brand. Having a document to reference your design standards will make your life easier. Lets say that you are going to hire a freelance writer to help you with your blog. How do you onboard them to your business? How do you let them know the tone and personality of your biz so they can write in your brand voice? Or how about someone wants to collaborate with you but they want to know if your biz values align? Wouldn’t it be so easy to just send over a document that explains who you are, what you believe in and how you should look? Yes. The answer is yes.
Style guides support all your marketing initiatives by ensuring that everything is aligned with your business goals, aesthetics, values and voice. Your business needs a brand style guide because it helps establish a strong brand that resonates with your audience, which is essential for building brand awareness.
Are you with me so far? Ok cool.
What Goes Into a Brand Style Guide?
Your style guide should include all the important guidelines that make up your brand’s identity and voice. It should go over who you are, what you do and overall goals/purpose. Every brand guide is different, not one is the same… look at Urban Outfitters vs Apple, you can tell who they are just by looking at it. If you browsed through them you can see that they have different content they chose to include. Either way having these books make it easy to quickly email it as a PDF when they need to onboard someone to their brand. It ensures that no matter what, all content coming from their business looks, feels and sounds the same.
Handy List of Items for a Well Rounded Guide
In case you are still unsure as to what to include, here is a list of what NEEDS to be in there and what is optional/extra to help you decide.
- Logo Use
- Brand Words
- Color Palette
- Photography Style
Here are the extra tidbits:
- Web Styles
- Your Story
Style guides can be really long or really short. It really depends on what you need it for. Mine is short and sweet, very much to the point and centered around design. I do have other decks for my strategy and goals so I kind of keep mine separate. Whatever works for you in this moment is what you should do, go with your gut. The important thing is to have one handy so that when the time comes you can send it over to whomever needs it. I know a lot of you have media kits, well its kind of like that. A brand style is something to be proud off, have bragging rights to, and ultimately is a great representation of who you are/what your business is.
Do you have a brand style guide yet?! If you do, share it in the comments below! If you don’t do you think you need one?