Consistency in your branding efforts can make a difference in how the outside world perceives your company. However, as your business grows and more people work on various aspects of marketing, design and customer service, you may find keeping things steady isn’t as easy as it was in the beginning. Knowing how to create a style guide helps ensure everything is uniform across platforms.
How to create a style guide shouldn’t be something you stress over. Most brands can add elements to the guide as they go, refine things along the way and include best practices. A style guide is a fluid document that grows as your business does.
What Should a Style Guide Include?
The latest Edelman Trust Barometer report surveyed 36,000 respondents in 28 countries. They found out of the various institutions, including education, government and media, around 61% stated they trusted businesses the most.
One of the reasons consumers might be more trusting of brands is the more recent focus on customer experience (CX). Believe it or not, your style guide can improve your CX. Consistency lets your audience know what to expect from you. They’ll get the same treatment and messaging every time they interact with your brand.
How to create a style guide requires attention to detail, a common language everyone working on projects can understand and ongoing commitment to keep the guide updated.
What are some of the things you should include when figuring out how to create a style guide for your brand?
1. Brand Philosophy
Why did you start your company and what are the core principles that drive you? When figuring out how to create a style guide for your brand, you must first consider how you want the outside world to perceive your business.
What causes do you care about? What is the core of your background story? You might wonder why you need to include your philosophy in your style guide. Doing so gets everyone on the same page and gives designers and writers a feel for your brand story.
2. Logo Usage Details
Learning excellent design strategies can help you when you figure out how to create a style guide and include details on logo usage. You will want to ensure your logo has a uniform look whether it appears in print or online.
You should define placement, sizing and colors. Within the style guide, be sure to attach the images you want designers to use so they don’t grab something subpar off the internet.
One consumer survey showed 78% of consumers believe logos can be works of art–they define your brand both in personality and appearance.
Do you use a play on words or spell anything differently? If so, you should include details in your style guide. For example, if you own a hair salon and you want the term “salon” used within the brand name, write it out for those creating content for you.
You can also define what style of writing you prefer, such as Associated Press or Chicago Manual of Style. Each format has different specifications, so sticking to one ensures the same spelling and punctuation throughout your content.
4. Tone & Voice
Another important aspect of how to create a style guide is the tone you want writers to take when completing content for you. Do you want to come across as open and friendly or serious? There isn’t a right or wrong tone. However, it is crucial to choose one and stick with it.
To give your material a consistent voice, come up with a business persona. Create an actual mock person who embodies everything you want to be. Anyone creating content for you should put themselves in the persona’s shoes.
5. Color Palette
Color theory makes a big difference in how well your color palette works. You have to really know your audience and how different hues impact them. For example, one culture might see black as elegant and another as bad luck. Dig deep into the beliefs of your audience segments and choose brand color palettes accordingly.
Some colors gain better results than others. Statista recently took a look at the top colors used in apps. They found white was the most used color at 42.73% for e-commerce–likely in the background as a base color.
When figuring out how to create a style guide, be sure to include how best to use your brand colors. You should also consider neutrals, though, as you want all designs to appear similar.
What fonts best represent your brand? Did you know each font has its own mood? You can choose a script font for a headline and create a completely different feel than if you go with a sans-serif bold font.
Different designers that work on your projects may have their own font preferences. Be sure to explain in detail what they can and can’t use. You don’t want 50 different fonts used on various pages throughout your website.
7. Image Sizing and Details
Other things you might want to define are how big images should be within posts on the blog or social media. You can even have specific sources or specifications such as angles and compositions you’d like photographers/designers to use.
Small details, such as at least 50% white space in an image, help give your designs a uniform look no matter where the photograph comes from.
How to Create a Style Guide Today
The best way to create a style guide is over time. Write out the details you know and tweak them and add to them as you go along. A style guide keeps everyone on the same page and ensures you have brand image consistency.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.