What goes into a brand style guide?

A comprehensive look into brand style guides: // what is a style guide??? do I even need one for my business??? what do they look like + what goes into them???

Oct 7, 2019


Does your brand have a style guide?

No man!

Not the style you expect your team to dress in 😆

a style guide for the BRAND! 


A few people have been asking me about style guides… 

So I have written up this guide on all things style guide… where I’m laying out:

// what is a style guide???

// do I even need a style guide for my business???

// what do style guides look like??

// what goes into a style guide???

First up… why do you even want a style guide?

Style guides [that “book” that explains all your brand elements], is not just meant for large corporations with thousands of employees.

Even with a small team, you could quickly find that if everyone does their own thing, and adds their own “flavour” to a branded item [from business cards, to social templates, and even email signatures or presentation decks]… you very quickly lose your branding identity – and it dilutes your brand message.

So even small businesses need some form of guide, so that ever member of your team ensures a consistent brand experience.

How should your style guide look?

There also isn’t a “standard layout” for a style guide… designers use different “looks” to convey the overall style of your brand:

// some are like a manual / handbook,

// some are a one pager, // some are called brand guidelines – like the uber example below [some are 10 pgs – some 100pgs]

// and some are laid out like an infographic,

// or called a vertical style guide [on a web page] – like the example created by madebysidecar [right]

…and the style guide content?

I have also noticed that designers tend to place more emphasis on their area of speciality… their expertise will shine through in the content they show!

Despite all of this, you will usually see the following core elements captured in most style guides:

// logos and marks

// color palette

// font or brand typography

// patterns + textures

// brand icons + elements

01 Logo + brand Marks

This includes things like Main Logos, the variations of the main mark, and submarks.

Your team need to be aware which marks are available for them to use.

Some style guides will go into depth as to which are used when + how they should be incorporated.

02 Color Palette

With the right color codes, your team will make sure that your brand’s color [one of the most recognisable aspects of your brand] don’t shift and change along the way [depending on their mood!].

Most common are:

// Hex code [the #0000000 code for black] or in

// CMYK breakdown [C: 0, M:0, Y:0, K:0 – for white]

Others [less common]:

// RGB

// pantone

// HSB

03 Font / Brand Typography

Which are the fonts you’ll use in your brand?

Each font / typeface helps to re-inforce the brand personality.

Your styleguide will show the team how are they used in specific instances.

04 Patterns + Textures

Patterns + textures enhance the overall brand feel.

It basically adds another layer to the brand [think YSL’s mark that is used as a pattern on their bags].

It’s key that you know how to use these patterns / textures [or it could get pretty “klunky” and “messy”].

05 Brand icons + elements

What are the “extra pieces” of the brand?

Examples would be:

// Custom icons,

// special brand mascots,

// banners + button design for the website,

// and other graphic elements.

🤔Have a style guide? 

What difference did It make for your business?

🤔Don’t have a style guide? 

How do your team stay consistent?

Share your stories in the comments below… 


About the Author

Emma is the Chief Coffee Drinker here at FreshSage. With over a decade in branding + another decade in corporate business - she's always balancing the creative with business strategy + goals. She believes everyone has a purpose + calling, and secretly loves helping her clients find theirs. When she's not building brand experiences, she's spending time with her High-school sweetheart + kidlet, tinkering in her veg garden, painting an abstract, and enjoying vino with friends.

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