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How to Create a Brand Style Guide

In our previous post on Designs Tips to Create a Consistent Brand, we talked about the importance of having a Brand Style Guide, or otherwise known as Brand Standards.

A Brand Style Guide ultimately sets parameters for not only the look and style of your brand, but your tone and messaging. In other words, they are the standards of your brand - your playbook! With these in place, your employees and vendors will be able to represent your brand as you originally envisioned.

But where do you even start? Keep reading for our tips on how to create a brand style guide!

Write a Blurb About Your Brand and What it Represents

This may seem silly, but writing a little blurb about your brand and what it represents is crucial for a brand style guide. Why? Because it tells your employees and vendors who you are and leaves no room for interpretation.

PRO TIP: If YOU don’t know who you are or what makes you tick, how can you expect your employees and vendors to know?

Your about section will pave the way for the rest of your style guide, don’t overlook it!

Give Examples of How to and How NOT to Use Your Logo

Of course your style guide will have your logo in it, but showing examples of how to use it AND how not to use it is key. We recommend showing how to properly use your logo in full color, all black and reversed.

Some examples of how not to use your logo could be:

  • Do NOT distort the sizing

  • Do NOT alter the brand colors

  • Do NOT put over a patterned background

  • Do NOT change the layout

  • Do NOT alter the logo in any way

PRO TIP: Have your logo saved out in the approved usages for your employees and vendors. Typically you should have both PNG and JPEG versions ready to go.

Brand Style Guide Sample

Provide the Specific Color Codes to Your Brand Colors

Now that you have the correct ways to use your logo, next is making sure your brand colors remain consistent. Your brand colors are not only the colors within your logo, but any accent colors that you envision for your brand.

For best practices, it’s ideal to show a sample of the color along with the name and all of the color codes associate with it.

The color codes will consist of CMYK (for print), RGB (for web) and HEX (adobe and microsoft). If your logo designer used spot colors for your logo, you’ll also need to provide the PMS (Pantone) color swatch.

PRO TIP: If you use certain colors for certain aspects of your brand, make a note of that here! This ensures your brand colors are used exactly how you want them to be used!

List Out Your Brand Fonts

Fonts can make or break a piece of marketing collateral. Don’t leave it to Karen to pick out any font she wants for your social media post! List out your approved brand fonts INCLUDING substitute fonts for when they are not available.

You might be thinking “why do I need to pick substitute fonts when I have approved brand fonts?”. Great question. Everyone who comes in contact with your brand will not have your brand font loaded on their system.

Let’s paint a picture: You just made a big ticket proposal in a powerpoint presentation using your licensed brand fonts that fit perfectly within your template. You save it out on a flash drive and head to your potential clients office to make the big pitch. You confidently open up the powerpoint on their computer and instantly have a panic attack — the fonts have defaulted to calibri and your text is overflowing on the page.

That happens because your fonts don’t live in the document, they live on your computer system. And if you’re using a computer that doesn’t have that font loaded, it’s going to default to a font that you typically wouldn’t approve for your brand. THIS is why it’s important to also include those substitute fonts that every computer has available.

Brand Standards Guidelines

Show Examples of Design Elements and Vibes of Photography

Next, you’ll want to add examples of design elements and the correct vibe of the photography you’d want your brand associated with.

In terms of design elements, this can include examples of block quotes, call outs, headlines, subhead lines, bolded copy, icons and more. If you have a particular vision of the placement and feeling of your brand, this is where you make sure there is no question.

We’d also recommend showing examples of photography that you’d like incorporated into your brand. Kind of like a mood board of the type of style and vibe that you want your photography, and even videography, to give off.

Dive Deep into Your Messaging and Tone

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want a section on your messaging and tone of voice. This is important so your employees and vendors understand the style, mood and boundaries of your brand.

Voice: who is saying it

Message: what you are saying

Tone: how you are saying it

PRO TIP: Often times, brands will include their values and beliefs as a company in this section of the Brand Style Guide. This provides context to what you stand for and can also help to build your target audience.

Brand Style Guide Designer

Let’s Design a Brand Style Guide

There you have it, our tips on how to create your very own Brand Style Guide. Whether you’re ready to get down to business, or need a little extra guidance from a Careiginal Brand Expert, we are here to support and cheer you on every step of the way.


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