A style guide is a document that contains all the information necessary to create collateral for your brand. It’s basically a bible that lays out the rules on how your brand should present itself to the world. It ensures consistency in all materials produced for any medium - no matter who produced it.
While this is one of the most important documents any brand could have in their possession, many still do not have one. The reason for this is the time associated with creating one due to the shear amount of information that goes into a creating it.
Now is the time to put effort into creating a style guide for your business. You will not regret the time spent, especially down the road when you hire a new employee and this document is already in place for training purposes. Here are the basics (and probably most important elements) to include in your style guide:
Your logo is basically your brand’s ID. When someone sees your logo, they (should) automatically know your brand. Therefore, this is probably one of the most important elements to create rules around. Your style guide should dictate exactly how your logo should be used.
Create rules on what colors can be used in your logo and the amount of spacing that must surround your logo to look good. If you have multiple versions of a logo, it is a great idea to put rules around when and how each version should be used.
While it’s great that you explain how your logo can be used, it is also a good idea to explain how NOT to use your logo. This way if any issues do arise, your style guide clearly illustrates how your logo can and cannot be used.
Colors are an important part of your brand’s identity. Unfortunately, without guidelines in place can shift over time as different people have a hand in content creation.
Your style guide should contain the color itself along with the hex code, CMYK and RGB values, as well as the Pantone color code. This information will eliminate any confusion later on and ultimately saves time and money if you are doing any printing.
A font is probably the place that many businesses are most inconsistent, which is why it is one of the most important things to cover in your style guide. Consistency in the fonts you use makes your business more put-together and professional.
Brands usually use different typefaces for different purposes. Your style guide should outline which typeface can be used as well as where and how to use it. At the very least, your guide should dictate the typeface and size for headlines and body copy. It may be beneficial, however, to be even more detailed and create rules around leading and kerning.
Images and graphics
Your choice of images and graphics says a lot about your brand. The images and graphics you use in your branding are often the thing that people will remember most. Images can create a variety of different emotional responses. Your guidelines should cover the types of images to use so that your brand isn’t sending mixed messages.
For imagery, everything from the style of photography, to the subject matter and the sizing should be outlined in your style guide. The sizing is extremely important when it comes to images you are using on your website. Knowing the dimensions allows you to crop the images properly and avoid using images that are too large and ultimately slow down your load times.