How to Create a Brand Style Guide in 6 Simple Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Unique brand identity and presence are vital for any marketing strategy. This brand identity can help to strategically position the brand in the marketplace and establish a good rapport with customers. As a marketing specialist, learning effective branding techniques can help you create a positive perception of the company and its products and services and assist it in maintaining a trustworthy image. In this article, we define a brand style guide, explain why it’s essential for a business to have one, share what to include in it, and discuss steps to consider when creating a good brand style guide.

How to create a brand style guide

There are specific steps you may consider when learning how to create a brand style guide. A good style guide is often relatively straightforward. Large companies tend to have more complicated style and branding requirements, typically making their brand style guides more detailed and complex. Here are seven steps to consider when creating a brand style guide:

1. Conduct intensive research

The first step to creating your brand style guide is determining the business’ identity. This stage often involves conducting intensive research and creating a mood board to collect and place ideas and inspiration for colours, images, and fonts representing the company’s brand. This process aims to select elements that capture the feelings and emotions the brand wishes to present. As you add, remove, or modify details, the mood board evolves and becomes more detailed to fit the company’s desires.

Read more: How to Become a Brand Strategist (With 8 Steps)

2. Audit the existing brand

When a company has a previous brand identity, an audit may be necessary to determine whether the former branding requires only modification or entire replacement with a more suitable identity. To conduct a thorough brand audit, you can review all the existing materials and content, such as the ads, documents, and graphics.

Consider the relationship the brand currently has with its clients and how accurately the current branding reflects the message and identity of the brand. Another helpful step is to survey new or existing customers to ask how they feel about the company and any recommendations they might have.

3. Define the core personality of the brand

To identify the brand’s core personality, you can start by identifying three to five keywords that most accurately convey the feeling and message that the brand represents. If the company has a tagline, ask yourself if it accurately represents the desired brand personality. Another core component of brand personality is messaging. You can clarify the major messaging pillars of the brand and make any necessary adjustments.

Read more: What Is a Company Profile? (With Tips to Write One)

4. Create a great brand story

The next step is to create a compelling brand story that appeals to the target audience. The brand story can feature details such as the company’s mission, core values, and vision. In addition, it can describe the idea behind the business, how it started, and its growth over time. This section aims to establish an emotional connection with the audience and shape the brand’s identity.

Related: What Makes Good Branding? (With Tips to Develop a Brand)

5. Clarify and document all specific guidelines

You can create sections for each element of the brand that contain all the specifics, guidelines, and standards for that element. Brand elements may include :

  • Logo

  • Core colour palette

  • Editorial style guide

  • Personality and voice

  • Typography

6. Create a mood board for all visual elements

You can finalize the mood board you began to create earlier, specifying the guidelines and rules around the brand's visual images. This section usually includes the guidelines for:

  • Icons

  • Concept

  • Style

  • Multimedia

  • Graphics

  • Photos

  • Composition

What is a brand style guide?

A style guide, also known as a brand guide or brand book, is a manual that details a company’s approach to strategizing and presenting its brand elements. The PR or marketing department of the company is typically in charge of creating, updating, and adhering to it. A brand style guide is a tool these employees use to ensure that the business is consistent with its communication and image. The marketing team may share the style guide with employees in other departments, clients, and the public.

Consistent branding is often vital to increasing business recognition, goodwill, and revenue base. A brand style guide defines the standards of all components that represent the business, such as the colours, logo, or voice of the business’ content. The guidelines that it provides sometimes apply to branded items such as business cards and office space.

Why are style guides essential?

Companies often use style guides to ensure a strong brand identity that communicates their desired emotions and message. Having a positive identity can provide increased recognition and credibility for the business, which may lead to higher profitability.

Brand style guides can help companies create quality control standards that consistently present a unified brand identity to their customers and the public. The guide typically does this by instructing the employees in charge of the company’s materials, such as copywriters, graphic designers, and web developers. Maintaining a distinct brand identity usually requires the company to adhere to the style guide when creating new business-related documents or content. For this reason, the marketing team usually makes the brand style guide clear and straightforward to understand.

Read more: 7 Copywriter Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

What to include in a brand style guide

Here are the essential elements you can include when creating a brand style guide:

P urpose

The brand purpose is a high-level explanation of why the company exists and the purpose it seeks to fulfil. The structure of the brand purpose typically includes:

  • Mission statement: the reason for the company’s creation and its core objective.

  • Vision: the aims of the business in the short and long term.

  • Core values: the principles and values that the company supports and portrays.

  • Target audience: the targeted groups of consumers and clients that the business seeks to satisfy, and the products and services it offers to meet the needs of these groups.

Story

The brand story is a narrative explaining the motivation for creating the company and the purpose it seeks to fulfil in the world. A brand story is crucial because it can help create an emotional connection with employees and potential and existing customers. The brand story usually includes the company’s tagline, a catchy phrase that generates an image of the brand in clients’ minds.

Personality

The brand personality refers to its core essence: tone, voice, and messaging style. This personality can help the brand story create an emotional connection with customers and the general public. Presenting a personable business with a strong emotional connection to its target audience is essential to generating rapport and creating loyal customers.

Whether friendly, professional, or complex, what matters is that the target audience can relate to the brand’s character and personality. A vital aspect of this personality is messaging; having an editorial section in the guide that describes the company’s written voice can help provide excellent and consistent messaging.

Colour palette

Companies usually select between one and four colours for the logo design to represent the brand. These brand colours often include a light colour, dark colour, contrasting colour, and a neutral colour. The style guide contains samples of each colour with guiding information to accompany them. This information typically includes the CMYK labels for printed material, codes for relevant shades and tints, Pantone name and number, and the RGB and HEX codes for digital materials.

Read more: What Are Branding Strategies? (With Definition and Benefits)

Logo

A logo is usually the first element of a business that people see, and it's crucial in providing the right first impression. Sharing the meaning and message behind the company's logo can help add substance to the guide and the message it's trying to send. The guide can include elements and details for logo creation, such as:

  • Colours

  • Font

  • Size

  • Graphical elements

  • Specific guidelines for logo usage and placement

  • List of all approved logo versions and their specific uses

Imagery

A style guide typically specifies the imagery that the business requires and describes in detail how to use it correctly in all brand content. This imagery includes components such as:

  • Graphics

  • Photography

  • Web design

  • Illustrations

  • Video elements

Typography

The style guide can also include the brand’s preferred typography. Typography is the style, structure, and appearance of all text used in the company’s brand materials. Most companies have a preferred font or style for the logo and a different one for all other content. The typography specifications in the style guide can include font types, sizing, spacing, and alignment. It may also detail the type hierarchy, such as the header and body fonts.

Please note that none of the companies, organizations, or institutions mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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