A brand style guide is a reference document that contains all the necessary information to properly brand a business. This may also referred to as a brand board.
A brand style guide typically includes a logo(s), color palettes, font pairings and much more.
In this blog post, I detail how to properly construct a brand style guide for your business. I also offer explanations for each element and how that benefits my design clients. Let's get started!
1 | Primary Logo
The primary logo is the logo you use most frequently. It often includes the most detail and is best used for larger projects. The primary logo should be used on your website, packaging and signage and any additional places where size permits.
I include the primary logo at the top of my style guide's because I believe your primary logo is the most important design element your brand has. Your entire brand should be easily communicated through your primary logo.
2 | Inspiration Board
Inspiration boards are the foundation of your brands visual identity. It evokes the aesthetic and emotion that you want your brand to evoke. The inspiration board should be used as a reference when creating all branded materials.
I tend to include the inspiration board as the second element in my clients style guide's. I think it's important to reference the primary inspiration at the beginning to keep it at the front of my mind through all design projects moving forward.
Related: How to create an inspiration board
3 | Alternate Logo's
An alternate logo is a variation of your primary logo. It is commonly designed using the same design elements on a simplified format. Your alternate logo is used when the primary logo isn't appropriate. This is commonly due to size restraints and can be seen through Favicon's, blog graphics and social media avatars.
I like to include the alternate logo's as the third element on the style guide. I believe logo's are some of the most important brand elements your business has and should be highlighted accordingly.
4 | Color Palette
Color palettes are the combination of hues you pick to visually communicate and evoke emotion from your audience. Color can be one of the most communicative aspects of your brands visual identity. Colors can create a sense of peace, excitement or urgency. Your color palette should give you enough flexibility to create visual interest without overwhelming your audience. A basic understanding of color theory can direct you towards the perfect balance.
Next, I include color palettes and hex codes. The hex codes make it simple for my client's to reference the colors without any issues.
5 | Font Pairings
Pairing fonts is the process of selecting two to three font’s you think will best communicate to your target audience. Fonts are very similar to colors in the way that they evoke emotions. A serif font may evoke a timeless or authoritative emotion. While a script font may evoke a personal and approachable emotion. A little studying of fonts should help you head in the right direction.
I include fonts pairings, application guidelines and theory in my clients style guide's. This helps them create consistency in their brand and business moving forward.
6 | Brand Elements
Brand elements can include any additional graphics that help your audience identify your brand. This may include icons, patterns, graphic elements or brand collateral.
I include brand elements in my clients style guide's to round out the visuals. This helps them visualize their brand working together before it is taken over to their website.
7 | Applications
Brand applications are examples of the client's brand in use.
I tend to use mock-up's or graphic overlays to visually represent what their brand will look like moving forward. A lot of my client's aren't as visually imaginative as I am, so this helps them bring the brand to life before we commit to the final designs.
Have you ever created a style guide? What did you include? Let me know in the comments!