So you have a small business with eye-catching branding and swanky brand guidelines. But there's another essential piece you may not have considered: a brand style guide.
This article explains what a brand style guide is and why every small business needs a brand style guide. We'll also highlight brand style guide examples to help you create one for your small business.
Unlike branding guidelines, which are a detailed and in-depth overall strategy for your business, style guides are standards for the look and feel of your brand. Style guides include logo usage, colors, visuals, word and tone usage, grammar, and more.
The purpose of a brand style guide is to ensure that your team knows exactly how to use all your brand assets correctly. Using a brand style guide creates cohesion and consistency across all touchpoints and can elevate your brand.
If you have brand guidelines, do you even need a brand style guide? In short, yes.
While your brand guidelines are essential to your business, you don't share them with everyone. For example, if you hire a graphic designer, they don't need to know every part of your brand strategy. All they need is the brand style guide.
Here are some other reasons why every business needs a brand style guide:
As mentioned, having a brand style guide gives your team a guide to work with, creating consistency and cohesion. When you have consistency, your brand will become recognizable and memorable over time.
Not only will your brand look consistent, but it'll ooze professionalism across every platform and every asset. A professional and consistent brand will help you stand out.
A company style guide creates a foundation or a structure for all to follow. Your team will appreciate the guidance and simplicity a style guide gives them.
Having a company style guide to follow makes your team's job much more manageable. It eliminates your team from making assumptions and going rogue when they're communicating or creating assets for your brand.
A brand style guide facilitates trust-building, whether it be a potential customer, a contractor, or even an investor.
Brand style guides are an extension of your brand guidelines, so it's good practice to include your brand style guide within your brand guidelines. You can then create a separate brand style guide PDF or your preferred document type to share with your team.
The brand style guide should be part of your onboarding process when you hire someone. Get them to acknowledge they've read it to ensure they understand the brand style guide requirements upfront.
There are dozens of ways you can design your brand style guide. With the range of free design applications, anyone can create professional-looking PDF documents. All you need is a little inspiration.
Here are two examples of brand style guides to inspire you:
A detailed one-pager style sheet is a simple style guide for small businesses. The one-pager PDF provides a lot of information and is easy to reference.
Though it's convenient for your team to use, it still lacks a complete view of a brand's style guide.
A brand style guide book is more comprehensive and usually contains many pages. Customers use a variety of platforms in today's digital landscape. So many brands will include things like banners, illustrations, icons, and social media graphic layouts in their brand style guide book.
Some brands also include "dos" and "don'ts" for their assets, such as logo color, shape, and spacing.
A brand style guide book is a brilliant addition to your overall brand guidelines.
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