Ultimately, design is an iterative process where you go back and forth to test things out.
Next, based on what performs best, you can distill some rules and guidelines for others to follow in order to recreate that kind of a look.
In other words—You must first design something first, in order to be able to establish rules on how things should be designed.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that your goal is to develop a practical guide that empowers creatives with the tools they need to create things that are “on brand”.
4. Include example applications
Once you’ve fleshed out the content and it all makes sense as a whole, then it’s time to wrap things up with example applications.
Show real examples of how the identity comes into life: business cards, stationery, website design etc.
The goal of this section is to show people how all of these elements come together to help project a strong, unified brand image across different media.
I like to add at least a few pages with good-looking mockups at the end of each style guide I create, including things like:
Of course, every brand is different and therefore it will require different brand expression examples.
For example: my recent client Medihuanna is a B2B brand that relies heavily on PowerPoint presentations (they offer courses).
Therefore in their style guide I had to showcase a few examples of how these presentations can be designed.
5. Provide links to brand assets
The very last couple of pages of your style guide should include some information or links to download source files.
Add links to download the visual assets: logo files and other supporting graphics.
The most common reason why people ignore style guides is because they can’t find them or they can’t find the right source files.
That’s why I like to generate an interactive PDF that is available online and includes links to logo and other visual assets—all in one place.
I simply add a couple of pages at the end of each style guide with links to download the logo package and other visual assets like illustrations, icons etc.
You might be concerned about the fact that anyone can get their hands on your brand assets and potentially rip off your branding, but that’s rarely the case.
Every style guide should include verbiage along the lines:
You must have specific permission and authorization to use any of our brand materials, including any resources within this guide and its accompanying files.
Simply being in possession of these materails does not imply or imbue permission in any way.
As the last step, you might also want to ask someone to check out your style guide before you show it to everyone.
That way you can avoid unnecessary questions and comments about something that is missing or unclear.
You will also get an opportunity to catch on some mistakes, misspellings or errors that you simply couldn't see.
Share it with someone you trust, someone who is familiar with the brand to find out if it’s all clear and understandable.
Ultimately, a style guide is only valuable is it helps the people who work on the brand.
One of the most important documents any company can have is a brand style guide, yet many don’t have one.
Every company needs a solid style guide to ensure consistency across the board.
You can call them style guides,brand guidelines, brand bibles, brand books etc. but they’re all essentially the same thing—a document that guides people on how to use the brand.
They come in different format and length, some style guides are 100+ pages long, and some get away with just a few simple pages.
However, they all basically have the same function—to contain the necessary information to help you create everything your brand needs.
Whether it be a website, marketing materials, social media posts or other graphics, this document will make your life easier.
If style guides are so important, why don’t all designers create them?
The biggest reason is time and money—it's difficult to create a style guide because it requires a lot of time and effort.
And much more importantly, not every designers knows how to do it or wants to do it—it’s often a long and tedious process.
You can speed up your process from long weeks or months to just a few hours with my new product—The Brand Guidelines Kit
You will save a lot of time with my design-ready template, all the descriptions and annotations you need, master pages, paragraph styles and color swatches that you can customize fast and easy.