What is a Style Guide?
A Style Guide Is A Rulebook For Your Brand
Some people call them “brand guides”, “brand bibles”, and even “style bibles” (Ok I made up that last one, but it’s not probably been used before). It’s really not a complicated document, and in fact should be simple to understand in order clear up any confusion about your colors, typography, images, illustrations, etc.
Not sure what your brand colors are? Check the style guide. Unsure which version of your logo (yes they can have variations!) you should use for a horizontal ad? Your style guide will have the answer. If you’re ever uncertain about how or where a logo can be placed on a piece of branded collateral, the guide should be your guiding North Star.
Dos and Do Nots
As much as a style guide tells you what your brand is, it also emphasizes how it should not be altered. When your logo gets handed off to a third party you should always include a PDF copy of your brand guide to ensure fidelity.
Do you need a style guide?
My answer is the same for this question as it is with all others: it depends.
If you’re some shady business looking to filter money through a shell corporation, then no you probably don’t need much else other than the name spelled out in Word®. But, if you’re a real business with growth on the horizon, you’re going to want to make sure your brand standards can keep you looking consistent and well-managed, all the way through.
The next step…
Complete a brand assessment! Take stock of how and where your current logo mark is being used in the real world. Ask yourself if everything looks like it’s coming from the same company, or if it’s been hobbled together like you cut it pieces out of a magazine and made a collage.