An Introduction to Brand Style Guides

When it comes creating a memorable brand, consistency is everything.
Brand Style Guides an Introduction

Think of a Brand Style Guide as a rule book containing specifications on everything from typography and color to logos and imagery for a specific company or organization.  Brand Style Guides help graphic designers, marketers, web developers, and even product packaging departments all stay on the same page, and present a unified vision of the brand to the public.  The best brands stick in our brains because their presence is defined by the repetition of the same logo, fonts, colors, and images.

Why a Style Guide is Important

Building Brand Loyalty is important

Your company is more than just the products or services you sell. A strong brand tells the world why they should choose you over all the other options on the market. A brand style guide tells your team how to stay true to that brand.

While some brand style guides are as thick as a novel, others are a simple one-page reference. It all depends on your company’s needs. The important thing is that it lists all your basic brand elements and can act as the singular point of reference for any future design project.

What to Include

Now that we understand what brand style guides are and why it’s important, lets take a look at what one should include:

Smart Code Logo Design

Logo

You may have established what color your company logo should be,  but do you know how it’s going to look in different environments?  This section of your brand style guide ensures your logo design is used in the way you intended. It also prevents mistakes—like stretching, or adding effects that could send the wrong message.

Remember to include all approved versions of your logo, describe when to use each one, and show visual examples to make it really clear.

Color Palette Style Guide

Color Palette

Defining a brand’s color will go a long way towards creating a consistent look and feel.   A color palette is a group of colors a company uses to design its brand, and it guides every piece of visual content the brand creates. In terms of color schemes, a well thought out style guide should list out specific RGB and hex codes.   These codes consist of numbers and letters to help you recall the exact shade, brightness, contrast, and hue you want associated with your brand, so your colors don’t gradually drift in appearance as you create new content.  Your color palette can guide your: Logo, Website Design, and Print Material.    The Adobe Color Wheel is a great resource for exploring the perfect RGB and Hex codes for your style guide   

Typography Style Guide

Typography

Another important part of your identity design is font selection.  Typographic guidelines can support your blog design — which font you use on letterhead — the links and copy on your website, and even a tagline to go with your company logo.

No matter how simple or complex your typography scheme is, make sure it’s used in all the right ways by explaining the choice and giving clear instructions for use.

  • Introduce: Tell the story of the typefaces are you using, how it relates to your brand.
  • Alignment: Make it clear if you want copy to always align right, left, or centered.
  • Spacing: Include tracking and kerning ratios to maintain a consistent style when font size changes.

Style Guide Examples Worth Checking Out

New York City Transit Authority

When it comes to services, few brands are more iconic than the NYC Transit Authority (NYCTA).  Like NASA, the NYCTA has its own Graphics Standards Manual, and it includes some fascinating typography rules for the numbers, arrows, and public transit symbols the average commuter takes for granted every day.

See the full brand guide here.

Nasa Brand Guide

Nasa

NASA’s “Graphics Standards Manual” is as official and complex as you think it is. At 220 pages, the Brand Style Guide describes countless logo placements, color uses, and supporting designs. And yes, NASA’s space shuttles have their own branding rules.

See the full brand guide here.

Urban Outfitters Brand Guide

Urban Outfitters

The Photography, color palette, and even tone of voice appear in Urban Outfitters’ California-inspired brand guidelines. However, the company isn’t shy to include information about its ideal consumer and what the brand believes in, as well.

See the full brand guide here.

Herban Kitchen Style Guide

Herban Kitchen

Herban Kitchen has both a color and texture palette in its brand style guide. These guidelines help to show not just how the Herban Kitchen’s logo will appear, but how the company’s various storefronts will look from the outside to potential customers.

See the full brand guide here.

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