The Basics of Creating a Brand Style Guide

Written By:Callum
Last Updated: March 12, 2024
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Amazon, Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonald’s – can you guess what these brands have in common? Aside from being the world’s most successful companies, they all have solid and consistent branding. In fact, their branding is so powerful that they became forever ingrained in our minds and hearts. We immediately recognise their logos, taglines and colours.

But what’s the secret behind their perfectly consistent and cohesive branding? Aside from a genius brand strategy, these companies are able to manage this level of visual consistency thanks to a little thing called a brand style guide.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of a brand style guide. If you read the whole thing, you’ll learn what a brand style guide is, why it’s important and what it contains.

What Is a Brand Style Guide?

A brand style guide (aka, a brand book) is more than a rule book for your company’s design elements. It’s a blueprint that helps you create a cohesive brand identity everywhere. Think of it as a secret recipe that makes your company’s branding as consistent as your morning coffee.

And just as a recipe guides you through the cooking process with a list of precisely measured ingredients and a step-by-step action plan, a brand style guide contains a set of brand guidelines that outline both visual and written brand elements in detail – elements that form your brand identity as a whole.

From your logo to your brand colours and brand voice, this little brand book has all the information you need to ensure brand consistency across all marketing materials – and beyond.

Why Are Brand Guidelines Important?

If you’re still wondering why creating brand style guides is necessary, then here’s your answer: without brand guidelines, you risk creating a brand that looks and feels chaotic, inconsistent and confusing. This isn’t good for business!

In fact, having a brand style guide is so essential that you simply cannot afford not to have one. In the long run, not having clear brand guidelines will lead to a lack of consistency in your branding, especially if your team keeps growing.

The more people are involved in working with the brand, the more difficult it is to maintain consistency over time. That’s because people often try to adjust the look and feel of the brand to their own aesthetic preferences, making your brand look inconsistent and weak.

Having an instruction manual containing detailed information about your brand – from the hex codes of your colour palette to whether or not your brand’s voice allows emojis – will help you create a brand that is easily recognizable, memorable and impactful.

Brand Style Guide: Key Elements

Clear brand guidelines are imperative to keep your brand from sending mixed signals to your target audience. That’s where your brand style guide comes in. In short, your brand style guide summarises all your brand guidelines – from a great brand story and brand values to your logo usage and colour palette.

Brand Personality

The goal of a brand style guide is to bring all your brand elements into one place and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page regarding your brand identity.

A simple brand style guide includes your brand mission statement, vision, core values, compelling brand story and even target audience. It can also include your brand archetype and personality traits. A typical brand guide will have a few pages describing your brand’s personality.

Mood Board

Every great brand starts with a mood board! It’s a summary of your brand’s visual identity. Its goal is to convey the overall visual style you’re going for, and it will do so with concrete examples of illustration style that’s aligned with the intended look and feel of your brand.

Primary and Secondary Logos

When you work with a professional designer, you don’t just get one version of your company logo. You get a primary logo and a secondary logo.

Your primary logo is meant for larger displays, such as on your website or storefront. Your secondary logo is intended to be used on smaller spaces, such as on social media graphics or your business card. Sometimes, you’ll also get a version of your logo to use on dark backgrounds.

A style guide will typically include all versions of your logo, along with specific logo guidelines on how and where to use each one.

Colour Palette & Typography

We’re naturally drawn to colours. They evoke emotions and influence how we feel. That’s why every brand book contains the brand colour palette together with HEX, CMYK and RGB colour codes. It also includes font styles. It’ll showcase the visual examples of each font together with its name.

Typography plays a crucial role in establishing a brand’s identity and creating a cohesive visual experience. The choice of fonts can convey a brand’s personality, whether it’s modern and sleek or traditional and elegant. Fonts are more than just letters on a page; they add a unique flavor to the brand’s message. When selecting fonts for your brand, consider factors such as readability, versatility, and alignment with your brand’s values.

Exploring typography options can be an inspiring journey. As you delve into the world of fonts, you might find the perfect typeface on the website.

typography inspiration website

This platform offers a diverse range of fonts that can elevate your brand’s identity. Each font comes with its distinctive charm, allowing you to find the ideal match that resonates with your brand’s essence.

Icons & Other Visual Elements

When building your brand identity, it’s easy to get caught up in the big things: brand colours, brand’s logo, typography, and so on. But as they say, the devil’s in the details!

That’s why a professional brand kit will also outline the seemingly small design elements that make a massive difference in the overall look and feel of your brand. We’re talking about things like icons, backgrounds, textures, patterns, and call-to-action buttons. It can also include product photography or brand photos.

By custom-designing these tiny elements, you’ll be able to create a cohesive visual style for your brand.

Brand Voice and Tone Guidelines

While your brand voice isn’t a design element, it still should be included in your brand style guide. Why? Because knowing this will help you keep your brand’s communication style aligned with its visual style. Your brand voice guidelines will outline things like your brand’s tone of voice (casual? playful? sophisticated?), language guidelines, headline examples, right and wrong message examples, and so on.

By including these core elements in your brand style guide, everyone on your team – from your graphic designers to your copywriters to your marketing guy – will be able to follow your brand guidelines to a T and always stay on brand. A comprehensive style guide is the determining factor in how your brand presents itself in the sea of other brands.

Build a Memorable Brand Style Guide of Your Own With Creato™

You can’t create consistent and cohesive visual assets without established brand guidelines. It’s like having a manual that contains specific instructions on how to construct every written or design element of your brand, from something as simple as a social media graphic to something much more complex like a well-crafted ad.

But to create a brand style guide, you must first create all the core elements of your brand – your mood board, icons, color palette, logo, etc. That’s what brand identity design is: the art of designing cohesive brand assets that create the identity of a brand as a whole.

At Creato – An Award Winning Design Agency Sydney, we’ve already designed hundreds of brands for our Australian clients – and we’ve been waiting to create yours! So if you’re looking for a team of expert brand designers to create your brand’s visual identity, contact us to learn how we can help.

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About callum

Callum is the founder of Creato, a Sydney based design agency that specialises in creating holistic brands for Aussie businesses.

With a talent for crafting memorable and effective branding solutions, Callum has built Creato into a respected and successful agency. His work has been featured in various publications, including The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Entrepreneur.

If you re interested in working with Callum and Creato to bring your brand to the next level, don t hesitate to get in touch!

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