Build your Brand Style Guide: Basic Tutorial

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Alright listen up, if you are a small business or startup and have never compiled your official brand style guide then this blog is for you.  If you are already an established brand with a comprehensive style guide you probably already know the basics we'll cover here but please feel free to read along you may be inspired to freshen up your brand and please let us know your best tips or suggestions for others that are just starting out.  

First, let's really get down to the basics.  A brand style guide is a compilation of the images, fonts, colors and details that collectively make up your brand.  Yes, it is important to use the same shade of blue from your logo on your website, business card, and ads, etc.  Integrity of your brand is maintained by first establishing then following your brand style guide.  It's not written in stone, a brand refresh may happen every few years but this isn't something you want to be switching around frequently. Often a customer/client will remember the color or shape of your company logo before the actual name so consistency is key here and dramatic changes should be thoughtfully considered.  

Checklist for what should be included in a basic brand style guide: 

  • Logo
    To begin, let’s round up all of your logo files and put them in one location in digital format. You will most likely have several versions in both high resolution and low resolution formats you can use in both print and online. At the end of each file name you will see the file extension, let’s break down what each of these mean:
    .pdf - this is the format used for print, as in your business cards, signage, uniforms and printed materials.
    .png - this is the format preferred for online use, as in your website, social media, e-newsletters/email campaigns and online ads. Will most likely have a .png file with a transparent background that could be used to overlay into graphics and photos.
    .jpg - this format may also be used online but often compresses into a lower resolution = lower quality image online.
    .ai - this file type is most likely the original design file from your graphic designer that created your logo. The .ai stand for adobe illustrator which is the program they used to create the design. It is important to note that both .ai files and .pdf files can be converted to any file type needed.

    *Survival tip: If you go through this process and realize you don’t actually have a digital version of your logo it’s ok, don’t panic. This is actually a pretty common occurrence especially for a small business. We hear it quite often and you have a two main options to move forward. First, if possible contact the graphic designer that created your logo for you and ask them to send you a full package of the original files, just about every designer I know keeps their design files so it’s easiest if you start there first. If that is not an option the next step is to hire a designer to recreate your logo based on a printed copy of your logo. The designer will recreate the logo for you based on your business card or brochures.

  • Fonts (Name & Size)

  • Brand Colors

  • Photography Rules

  • Brand Hashtag

SAMPLE TEMPLATE

Brand style guide template

EXAMPLE

Wolf Hound Brand Style Guide

Resources:

As you put this together, you may find you need some help filling out the details.  

  1. If you need help with color, I love to visit the Pantone Website to see the seasonal trending colors or research complimentary colors.

  2. When you find a great Pantone color and need to look up the hex, cmyk or rgb value visit this Color Look Up page.

  3. Choose complimentary fonts for your brand, a handy resource that pairs fonts for you is available over at Font Pair.

I suggest putting your brand style guide together and save it as a pdf, this will be your guide moving forward as your create your website, your email campaigns, your business cards, etc.  

Integrity of your brand begins with you, make the commitment and establish the guidelines now for you and your team.