How to Create Your Brand's Visual Style Guide

 Creating your visual brand guidelines. Why do you need visual branding. How to stay consistent with your branding. 

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Last week my theme was, “consistency is key” and I talked about what a visual identity guide is and why you need one for your blog or business. One of the biggest is that those brand identity guidelines help keep you and your visuals consistent and on brand. This week I want to focus on the fact that your brand is more than your logo.

A little anecdote from my life: I have spent most of my career in marketing and design and a good amount of that was as a branding and project manager. In fact, in every position I have had I managed brands and projects, and sometimes – often times – it was a team of one. Anyway, one thing that held true from project to project or job to job, was the need for a visual brand guide.

I won’t lie, most smaller companies I worked with didn’t have one and it made content creation a bit of a mess. I would often get stuck with whatever my boss or the owner of x company liked best, and it could be vastly different from the marketing piece that I had made the last time for the same company. It drove me nuts! Something that always helped was getting these small businesses to stick to a visual theme and brand guidelines. A large reason why I decided to start this design studio is because of how passionate I am about cohesive brand identity – especially for small businesses and solopreneurs!

I get it, it can be hard to stick to one style, especially if you are an eclectic soul – like myself – but it just makes your business so much stronger! It also really helps when you work with ad agencies or freelancers to be able to hand over all the essential information about your brand they need!

Okay, sorry for that little rant, but this is important stuff.

Let’s get back to the task at hand and talk about how to make a visual style guide for your brand! You will want to gather the following elements and compile them into a booklet or chart. You may not need everything on this list or have a lot of specific rules associated with your brand, but this should give you an idea of how to get started.

Logo(s)

First and foremost, you will want your logo and logo variations on your style guide. If you don’t have an official logo or alternatives, that’s okay! While I do believe logos are important for branding, I understand that there are situations where you may not really have one. If you are an influencer or blogger and your name is your business then you can have a simple wordmark as your logo. I would just pick a simple typeface and write the name of your company, you can use this for the time being. Down the road, you can work with a designer to have your logo revised and alternate logos made.

If you have any specific requirements for usage be sure to include those as well. There are times when you will want to specify that the main logo is needed, or say a favicon, for web and social profiles. Define where your logo(s) can be used, how your logo(s) can be used, and what can be done to your logo(s).

Colors

Next, I like to move onto brand colors. You want your brand to have a defined set of colors. Be sure to define the CMYK, Hex, and RGB color codes for your brand. You will be able to use these color codes across print and digital mediums, so you can have brand consistency!

Textures

Include swatches of any textures you commonly use in your design – i.e. marble or stone – and where or how they can be used in your print and digital materials.

Patterns

You want to be sure to have your signature pattern(s) as well as where and how they are used in your style guide. Also, be sure to include appropriate color variations for your patterns if you have any.

Typefaces

When you create your brand, you will need to pick the typefaces (fonts) you will use. Define your logo type, web type, print type, etc. I recommend sticking to 2 typefaces, possibly 3. I have a third font that I use for my website – Futura PT, but all of my other materials are 2 fonts, which I use in my logo – Maveric and Avenir Next.

Images

You should include pictures that communicate the look and feel of your brand. You will want these pictures to be high quality and edited in the same way you want all your photos to be. This will really help with product catalogues, ads, and social media feeds.

Examples

I think it’s a great idea to have examples throughout your style guide of what things should look like and how they can be used. I would definitely include examples of social media posts and ads that you have used in the past that were on brand. Having samples of on brand social posts or ads will help yourself, agencies, and freelancers continue to create materials that match your brand.

Putting it all together

Okay, so once you’ve gotten your visual assets together you need to organize them. You can create a full book about your brand, a simple style board, or both. The nice thing about having a simple style board is that it’s a quick reference, but if you have a lot of rules and regulations surround the usage of your colors, logos, or other assets, you will definitely want to get those on record and you may need to write a more complete booklet.

Here is a little infographic to help you put together a simple visual style board for your brand!

 How to create a brand identity guide for your business. Create a visual style guide for your business. How to create a brand style. 
 Branding guidelines for blogs and businesses. Learn how to may your own brand style board. Learn how to make your own brand mood board.

I hope that this article helped you learn how to put together a style guide for your business or blog! While it may take some time and effort, getting your brand guidelines together is an extremely important step for your business! You will get so much from having the ability to reference your style, fonts, colors, and everything that makes your brand unique. Having your brand style guide ready to go will keep you consistent and take your brand beyond just a logo that is thrown onto marketing materials!

What is your experience using a style guide? Do you find them helpful for staying consistent in your branded materials? I’d love to hear from you! 

Please be sure to comment below!

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