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What Is A Style Guide And How To Create One For Your Brand? [Template and Examples Inside]

Let’s think about it together. All of the brands we are interacting with are easily remembered, and intuitively recognizable. 

We go to Amazon to buy Nike sneakers, and FedEx delivers the parcel almost instantly. The mentions of these brands here are not native ads  – they are just companies with consistent branding. 

Well-developed brand guidelines are the starting point to build the unique personality of your business. 

That is why, in this article, I decided to lay out what a style guide is, why it is important for your brand, and how to come up with your own brand guidelines in several easy steps. 

What is a style guide?

Let’s start with a style guide definition

A style guide (also known as a brand guide) is a document that clearly and unambiguously describes the distinctive features of your brand. Each company has a unique style guide template that matches the company’s mission and values. It serves as a framework for all members of the marketing and development teams.

style guide for designers

By using a brand guidelines template: 

  • designers get an idea of ​​what elements, colors, fonts and combinations they can use to form a holistic user impression regardless of platform and channel
  • content writers and SMM specialists get the opportunity to stick to the brand tone of voice in every article and other promotional materials
  • marketers develop strategies to promote a business, making sure that every effort is geared towards creating a consistent (and most importantly, positive) user impression of your brand

Why is it important to have a style guide? 

Really, why? The matter is that 90% of businesses are sure that their online (and offline) presence should be consistent and uniform regardless of the channel. And they are right  – each unique design element (for example, your easily recognized logo) helps users to identify your brand in the crowd of competitors. 

What is more, there are other benefits and reasons to create a style guide for business: 

  • The brand style guide makes you look more reliable. A company can’t become recognizable overnight. It takes constant effort. By following the rules of your style, you gradually make your brand more and more recognizable, and the consistency makes you more reliable at the subconscious level of user perception.
  • The brand guidelines help you stay focused. For example, you may want to come up with a new landing page to promote a specific good or service. Using a style guide, you will need to make fewer design efforts and just use the pre-developed and already recognizable elements. 
  • The style guide facilitates the joint work of your teams. Using this document as a framework, your teams from different departments have clear rules to follow which means they have better chances of doing their jobs right from the first try. 

why do you need style guide

The essential brand style guide elements 

If you are aiming at developing a style guide template, you firstly should find out what a style guide is (already done), and then proceed to its main components. 

Generally, we can divide them into three major groups: brand positioning elements, brand tone elements, and visual identity elements.

style guide elementsSo, here they are in more detail:

  1. Brand positioning elements

Purpose, mission, values, vision, and brand story

When creating style and design guidelines, write these words at the very beginning of the sheet. Being honest and creative about your company will help you develop a truly unique style.

Buyer persona

The style guide should also describe your target customers. Since they are central to any marketing strategy, knowing your buyer persona will help you select design elements that will be appealing to them.

     2. Brand tone elements

Editorial style features

These features refer to all content that you intend to produce and publish. Here you can come up with something unique, too. For example, some companies choose not to capitalize their headlines and use circle bullet lists. And you?

The tone of voice

By returning to your values and customer profile, you should develop your personal tone of voice. How will you talk to the consumer? Would humor be appropriate? What magnet words will become your identifiers? 

You need to write these aspects down and create a comprehensive writing strategy for every marketing channel where you share the branded content.

     3. Visual identity elements

Fonts

This is the next essential element of your style guide. Use Google Fonts to select the typography solutions by the parameters of thickness, width, slant, etc. You can test the chosen font in real-time by typing in any sentence.

google fonts

In the style guide, you should specify the name of used fonts, their sizes, and parameters for different parts of texts (Title, H1, H2, H3, etc).

typography style guide

The font is quite capable of conveying marketing and emotional messages. 

Want to prove this? Compare the fonts used by Disney and PayPal, for example.

Disney uses a twisted font that hints at something fabulous and fun.

disney logo

PayPal’s business font tells that everything is pretty serious here.

PayPal logo

And both fonts are absolutely recognizable today.

Color palette

Colors are extremely important to your style guide. It is recommended to use no more than three colors, taking the psychology of colors and design rules into account. 

For example, the already mentioned PayPal uses blue and white as the main colors, which are associated with reliability and stability. 

To select the color combination for your brand which looks really stylish, use the pre-made color schemes created by leading web designers.

color palette

Logo

The logo is the face of your brand and it should definitely be reflected in your style guide. Demonstrate several logo variations (vertical/horizontal, with a text/only image, etc) that can be used by designers in different types of content.

logo style guide

Icons and images

It’s a nice idea to use custom graphic design solutions both in terms of branding and SEO (Google email recognizes plagiarized content). In the style guide, you should present the most common visual elements in different conditions (for example, all types of CTA buttons and their hover states).

buttons style guide

Style guide templates and examples to be inspired by

Let’s take a look at ReVerb’s style guide template. We combined shades of three basic colors, created quite a recognizable logo, created a lot of custom elements (e.g. social sharing buttons) and selected well readable typography solutions. 

reverb style guide

Prepare your brand style guidelines based on our template to keep all essential design elements in one place or trust this responsible mission to our highly-qualified designers.

Let’s see a couple more inspiring examples of well-developed brand guidelines.

Example of a style guide template 1

example of style guide

Example of a style guide template 2

example of style guide template

Example of a style guide template 3

examples of style guide template

Example of a style guide template 4

style guide example

How to create your own style guide step-by-step

So, here’s what you need to do to create your style guidelines:

  1. Answer personal questions about your brand. By understanding the inner essence of your business, you can understand what values ​​users need to have in order to start trusting you, and what tone of voice, fonts and colors you will use to convey those values.
  2. Combine the efforts of your creative teams. Developing a style guide is a case where specialists from different fields have to work hand in hand with the leader. Involve the PR, content marketing and design specialists. Ask them to prepare a few versions of the style guide template in teams or individually, then, brainstorm. It’s necessary to build the holistic image of your brand as the one that you want your users to see.
  3. Select and properly combine design elements. Choose the right colors and typography, and create a recognizable logo in style with them. 
  4. Combine the results into a single document and share it among all your creative teams. That’s clear.

how to create a style guide

Conclusion

It’s much easier to explain what a style guide is than to create it in practice. This is a creative and brainstorming process that involves careful research and fruitful work of several teams. 

Don’t have the in-house specialists who can create a memorable style guide for your brand? Well, ReVerb’s experts have already cut their teeth on style guide creation, and are ready to assist in creating yours! 

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