It’s okay; you can ask. “What the heck is a style guide exactly?” It’s basically a cheat sheet for your whole brand that lists all the visual and verbal guidelines needed to keep your brand strong and consistent throughout all kinds of projects. You can share your style guide with teammates, clients and other business partners to quickly get everybody on the same page, and to ensure that your brand is never misrepresented. It sounds like a big ol’ serious rule book, but we promise — these can be fun! To help you dive into designing your brand, our friends at FedEx are sponsoring our Design Your Brand Identity Online Class so that you can take it FOR FREE through December 31, 2016! Scroll down to get a head start on designing your brand with five style guide must-haves and then check out the free class for more!
1. ESTABLISH YOUR CORE VALUES
Before you dive into the visual aspects of your style guide, take some time to think about your core values, or what specific characteristics make your brand important and unique. Bring up these descriptors throughout your style guide to ensure that you’re telling a cohesive story through every detail of your brand.
2. CHOOSE YOUR COLORS
Color does so much to set the tone of your brand, so dedicate a good amount of time to feeling out which colors communicate your brand mood. Group these colors into primary and secondary color palettes for more versatility than just having a few main tones and make sure that they feel harmonious — not competing or cancelling out each other. You’ll want to list your final colors as swatches in CMYK (for print), RGB (for web) and Pantone (for spot color matching) in your style guide.
3. CHOOSE YOUR FONTS
Just like with colors, you’ll want to set yourself up with a strong arsenal of primary and secondary fonts. Your primary fonts are the statement fonts you use in headlines, subheadings and titles to draw attention to the content. Resist super trendy of-the-moment fonts and instead find something interesting, yet timeless. Your secondary fonts are used for body copy, CTAs (or “calls to action”) and legal copy. They can be more subtle and are meant to be easily readable in large paragraphs. Also note that there’s a difference between fonts for print and for web. When building your site, you’ll want to choose web fonts or universal fonts as opposed to fonts meant purely for printing.
4. DESIGN IN LOGO VARIATIONS
When designing a logo, you’ll want to make sure to have a few variations to set yourself up for all kinds of print and web applications — a full color version, an all black logo on a white background, an all white logo on a black or color background, a print (CMYK) version and a web (RGB) version, all saved as either .eps or .png files so that they can be resized without compromising resolution.
5. SET A PHOTOGRAPHY MOOD
It’s not just colors, fonts and logos but often photography that really sets the tone of your brand. Take some time to think about how you want your brand imagery to look as a whole, considering lighting (do you like high contrast, natural lighting or ambient lighting?) and the emotions you want to convey (do you want it to be chaotic or minimal? Playful or serious? Colorful or neutral?).
Take a stab at forming your own brand style guide and check out our FREE Design Your Brand Identity Online Class through December 31, 2016!
Sponsored by FedEx.
Author: Lee Schellenberger
Photography: Brittany Griffin