It’s a simple question: Do you need a style guide?
And it has a simple answer: Yes.
Any small business, medium business, blog or website needs to maintain consistency and a professional identity.
My work consists of new jobs, rebrands and one of projects many of which, when I ask client’s “Do you have a style guide” the answer generally is “No, what is a Style Guide?”.
A style guide is your go to resource for visual and writing tone for your brand.
A style guide includes visuals (colours, imagery, shapes and textures) and writing style (fonts, heading, subheading, body copy etc). For websites this could include coding specs, or define how user interface should work.
Here are some basic elements which could be included in your Style Guide. The next few blog posts I’ll pull each element apart and break it down with examples.
Your brand must have a set of fonts that are suited for both print and web. These fonts should be used through all marketing materials.
You should also consider which fonts and weight will be used for different aspects of design including your header, subheader and body copy. It’s a good idea to include fonts that shouldn’t be used too.
Your colours are an important aspect of your brand and all consideration needs to be thought of to ensure you have Pantone, CMYK and Hex codes (for web). Not every color can be perfectly transferred between web and print usage, so it’s a good idea to specify your preferences so that you don’t end up with a color that clashes with your original design.
RGB (used for Web) will compare drastically when viewing CMYK colours on your desktop of smart device (certain blues commonly become muted and darker, reds may appear more orange or pink, etc.). Take the time to verify and manipulate each color space so that you get the best results possible. And be sure to verify your CMYK colors in print, not just on screen.
LOGO PLACEMENT AND SIZE
Generally, most logos will lose their effect if displayed too small, so a huge must is to minimize your logo to the smallest size possible (usually business card size) and ensure the composition, legibility and overall look is unified. You may either have alternate (usually simplified) logos to be used at small sizes, or just a minimum size at which the logo should be displayed.
Empty space should be specified which includes the ‘surrounding white space’ around your logo so that it doesn’t lose its effect or become cluttered. You must also be specific about whether or not your logo can be displayed in alternate colours (One PMS, Grayscale, on white, on coloured background etc). Also specify whether the logo can be placed inside a border or box, and how much clear space needs to be left around it in those cases.
IMAGERY, TEXTURE AND ICONS
If there are specific icons (or icon sets) that should be used exclusively, or specific images that are commonly used, then be sure to specify these in your guide. Including a link to the exact icon set is a good idea, since icon names are not always 100% unique and can be easily confused.
You should also specify here if only certain types or styles of imagery should be used. For example, you might specify that every photo used needs to include a specific color, or needs to have a vintage filter applied, or needs to be black and white.
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