Creating a company style guide: Reasons, thoughts and tips

If you’ve gone through the process of creating a logo for your company, you know the time and effort that’s involved. Once you’ve established your company brand and have a sense of how that brand should be presented in your marketing, you’ll want to make sure that all your employees are aware of how to use key elements in presenting your company.

You can simplify this process for your employees by creating a company style guide. Just like logos, style guides take some time to create, but they’re well worth the effort in the long run.

Here’s an overview of what a style guide is, as well as some tips and key areas to think about when creating yours. Having clear details will make for a more cohesive, professional brand, but remember to be open to some flexibility in design. It’s important to include the most pertinent and helpful information about your brand, but don’t make so many restrictions that there’s no room for creativity.

What a style guide is and does

A company style guides help you maintain consistency in all your marketing. The document serves as an outline of how your company is presented in email, print and online. It helps build your brand by ensuring that your logo, fonts, colors and photos are used in the same way all the time.

Once created, your style guide should be given to all employees – not just your marketing team. It’s best to create a pdf or online version that can be viewed and shared by everyone. Make it easy to access, so when people have a question, they can quickly find the answer.

And if you’re outsourcing any of your marketing, be sure to share your guide with writers, designers, photographers, etc. This will make their job easier and ensure that the work done is not only more efficient, but matches your brand from the start.

What to include

Here are a few major categories to include and things to think about when creating your guide:

  1. Color(s)
    Because different color systems are used for online and print needs, you’ll want to provide the exact CMYK values, Pantone colors and RGB breakdowns in your guide. (It’s also a good idea to include the hexadecimal values, or hex codes, for online use.) Here’s an example of color breakdowns used in the Walmart logo: If you need help finding or determining your logo color breakdowns, speak with your designer or marketing team. For your style guide, think about:

    • What are your primary brand colors? These are probably in your logo, but where else are they used? Where will they appear in your website, print materials, etc.?
    • Do you have other colors used in your materials? What are they used for? Can they be used in various combinations for design purposes?
    • Do you have a color assigned for body copy? Headlines? Subheads?
  1. Logo
    Your logo is one of the biggest parts of your brand. In your guide, you can explain exactly how that logo should and should not be used. As noted above, you’ll want to make sure the color or colors in your logo always remain the same, no matter where they’re used. You’ll also want to make sure that you have and show logo versions in black and white and/or grey for times when you’re not printing in color.
  1. Fonts
    In general, it’s best to choose just two to three fonts for your company materials. With too many fonts, websites and documents become overwhelming and can quickly look unprofessional. Your style guide will help dictate what typeface goes where and how to use it. Start by asking these questions:

    • What font do you want to use for body copy on your website and in print?
    • What sizes will be used? For instance, will you use an 11-point font, 12-point, etc.?
    • Will you use one font for body copy and another font for headlines?
    • Do all employees have access to the font, or will you need to purchase or download font versions for use? If your main fonts can’t be used for any reason, what acceptable alternative fonts can be used?
  1. Taglines, Photos and Illustrations
    If your company has a slogan or tagline, you should designate when, where and how it’s used. Will it be used only with your logo? Can it be used separately in print documents or online? As for graphic elements used in your marketing, ask yourself:

    • What is the graphic style of your brand? Is it classic? Modern? Edgy? Artistic?
    • Will you use illustrations or photos or some of each?
    • Will photos always be in color or can black and white photos be used?
    • When and where should photos be used within your brand?
    • What are the subjects of your photos? Will you include photos of employees, projects, your location(s), clients, etc.?

Updates and changes

As your business grows and changes over time – and especially if you change your logo or go through a rebranding process – your style guide will need to be updated. Plan to update your style guide on a regular basis, and include the date on each version so that your employees and designers know that they have the most recent information available.

Need help creating a style guide for your business? Want to see examples of guides we’ve helped create? Contact the Byers Creative team today.

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