Many small business owners come to Design It Please for logo design but have never heard of brand guidelines or a brand style guide. Everyone knows what a logo is and can mention some of their favorites, but few people understand that behind every great logo is a style guide. The brand style guide is the conductor of the brand, and more small businesses and non-profits should have one.

What is the Purpose of a Brand Style Guide?

Basically, to get everyone in the organization on the same page. It doesn’t matter if you’re a company of two or twenty thousand, if you want a consistent brand, everyone needs to know how to talk about it and depict it. Marketing (even if it’s a team of two) needs to be presenting the brand the exact same way as Human Resources and Sales and the every other team.

Even if you’re a team of two, you still need brand guidelines.

If you think of the brand as a person on a playground, you want everyone who meets the brand to have a similar experience. The brand has a certain style and a certain way of talking and a certain personality. We, as humans, get confused when a friend suddenly changes their style or the way they speak; it’s the same for your brand. Brand guidelines help everyone in your organization consistently present the brand, which becomes immensely important as you grow.

What is a Brand Style Guide?

The easiest way to answer this is to list what typically goes into one.

  • A brand style guide should always start with who the company/charity is. Include the brand’s history, vision, key values, and brand personality (we’ll talk more about this tomorrow).
  • Don’t forget the brand’s tagline and mission statement. You can even include examples of proper ‘tone of voice’ for the brand. Is it more playful? Is it scientific? Is it exclusive? This is important to define early on.
  • Buyer personas. For whom are you creating content? This should be an exercise you do early on in the development of your organization. All the content you create, whether it’s blog posts, e-newsletters, social media posts, etc., is created for these personas.
  • Logo usage. This one might seem like a designer just being picky, but it’s important! Logo usage refers to things like minimum and maximum sizes, the amount of white space that should surround it, and if it can be tilted or overlapped or made transparent, etc. All these rules are created to ensure that the logo can be easily read and understood in all situations.
  • The brand’s color palette! Color is exciting, and color palettes are wonderful. A logo designer spends a lot of time and thought creating an appropriate color palette for your brand, so make sure it’s used!
  • Which fonts are to be used in your printed materials? Which fonts are to be used for web purposes? These need to be codified so that Times New Roman doesn’t show up on one flyer while Comic Sans is used on another (also, never ever use Comic Sans).
  • What does your imagery look like? Is your target market woman between the ages of 45-65? Then, make sure your photography, iconography, and other images fits them! The imagery section of your brand guidelines can include icon examples, photography examples, illustration examples, patterns, etc.
  • Print materials that would be used across the organization, like business cards and letterhead, can also be included in the brand style guide.

The specific needs of your business/charity will also determine what else may be included in your brand style guide. If you advertise on billboards or have outdoor signage or produce physical merchandise, the specifications should be added to your style guide.

The Purpose is Consistency for Your Brand

All these little details that make up a brand style guide are for the purpose of presenting your brand consistently throughout all mediums and applications. A consistent brand is a memorable brand. A consistent brand conveys trust. A consistent brand conveys reliability. A consistent brand has brand guidelines.

Need help with your brand guidelines? Get in touch today!

Looking for some inspirational examples? Check out Netflix, Cisco, Jamie Oliver, and I Love New York.