Every organization needs a visual style guide, no matter its size or how many designers it has. Having one on hand will save you time and money, and ensure that your brand is visually consistent across all print and digital platforms. Your visual style guide can be as comprehensive as you’d like, but the sections below cover the basic information you should include:
Consider all of the fonts you use in your marketing and sales materials. You should include the sizes of fonts used for headlines, subheads, body copy and captions. Note the weights and styles of the fonts that you typically use. That way, you can avoid mismatching fonts and inconsistent design materials.
Specify the exact colors that your brand uses. Design Seeds is a helpful resource for coming up with a color palette for your brand. For each color, know the RGB and hex code for web use, and CMYK and Pantone values for print. Remember that some colors change when transferred from CMYK to RGB mode. Remember to always review the color onscreen and after being printed before finalizing a project.
Illustrate where to place your logo on your collateral, including the size that it should be. A logo that is too small will go unnoticed, but a logo that is too large will appear cartoonish and make the project unbalanced and too promotional. If you use a grayscale version of your logo, list when it’s appropriate to do so. Describe how much white space you want around the logo and where you put it over images and other content. Also, provide examples of ways you don’t want your logo used.
If your brand is associated with certain icons, or uses icons such as social media buttons, display the exact versions you want to be incorporated. If there are certain types of photos, or colors that you want your photos to have, thoroughly explain what they are and include examples. Be clear about which filters or editing techniques you apply to your photos, and offer numerous examples to demonstrate.
Brands are always evolving (we completely re-branded last year), so make sure to keep your style guide updated! Have a print version at the office so that anyone who is about to post on social media or design a flyer can refer to it easily. Also, have a digital copy that you can update and share with others as needed.
If you’re lacking inspiration to get started, check out these 13 successful brand’s style guides. Also, there are many online resources, such as Frontify, that allow you to upload your brand’s information to a style guide template. If you still have questions about creating a style guide, feel free to contact us, we’re always happy to chat!