I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in NY. I specialize in the development of brands: brand strategy, identity & web design. Need help with your project?—Get in touch
Looking for style guide examples to inspire your brand?—I’ve compiled an enormous list of some of the best brands and their style guides.
If you want to build recognition and differentiation, you need to pay close attention to how your brand assets are being used.
Branding is all about consistency and style guides are tools to help you achieve that.
Best brands stick in our brains because they are very consistent in the way they use their logo, fonts, colors and other visual assets.
When we see these logos, fonts and colors consistently over time and on different applications, they become instantly recognizable and bring a sense of reliability and security.
On the other hand, when use see logos, fonts and colors being used inconsistently, it devalues the brand in our eyes or outright confuses us.
That's why you need to establish a solid style guide to ensure proper use of your brand assets.
A good brand presence is defined by the repetition of the same logo, fonts, colors, and images used consistently across all communication.
Moreover, you will get everyone from internal teams to external clients on the same page, so that collectively you can build a strong brand presence.
PS. If you want to learn how to create a style guide—check out my YouTube video.
A brand style guide, as the name suggests, is a guide that establishes rules for how a brand should be presented.
A style guide is a rulebook that specifies the look and feel of a brand.
It specifies on how to use the brand from both: graphic and language perspective.
These guidelines help graphic designers, marketers, web developers, and other creatives stay “on brand” in everything they create.
A style guide improves communication by ensuring consistency both within a piece of communication, and across multiple applications.
In a nutshell, a style guide helps to ensure a great brand experience.
This simply means that no matter how, when or where a user experiences a brand, it always feels like the same one.
Target audience is experiencing the same underlying traits across every brand touch-point.
The best way to understand what a style guide is and what should be inside is by looking at some of the best style guide examples.
I’ve compiled a list of 100 famous brands and their style guides.
That way you can see some of the practices and use it as your inspiration for the next branding project.
Below it the list, just open the links in new window to check them out—they're all PDFs.
You can also bookmark this page for future reference.
As a designer and branding expert, I always like to look at other people's work to get some ideas on how I can improve the quality of my work.
I studied some of these above style guides in preparation for my recent project and now I share it with you for your inspriation.
If I missed any of your favorite style guides just send me an email so I can add them to the list.
A style guide document is usually developed by whoever is working on the branding project—an agency or a designer.
Style guides are created by designers and agencies who specialize in branding.
Not every designer will know how to develop a comprehensive style guide, but most will certainly do know how to make at least a simple style sheet that covers the basics.
Depending on the company, a style guide might describe different brand assets like typography, color palette, layout, patterns, imagery, illustrations, icons, animation, UI elements, and other graphic assets.
A basic style guide includes: logo usage, its versions and colors, and the do’s and dont’s.
However, most style guides will also include things like brand strategy, tone of voice, editorial tips with examples, and so on.
At the end of each style, there should be at least a few examples of proper use of these brand assets on real applications (business cards, stationery, signage, website etc.)
Ultimately every style guide is different because every company is different and therefore has different requirements.
As mentioned earlier, a style guide can include just the minimum basics laid out on a couple of pages or it can go to an extent of hundreds of pages—therefore price can vary greatly.
Expect to spend anywhere from $3,000 up for a decent style guide.
Ultimately, the price you pay for a style guide development will depend on who you hire and how big the scope of work is.
Just like with logo design, graphic design in general or any other creative service—the price depends on who you hire, their experience and expertise, their location etc.
However, while anyone can design a logo, I don't believe any designer can develop a great standards document.
Building a style guide is a tedious, often hard work that only experienced designers will actually know how to do.
Design is not always a linear process like from A to B, it’s more of an iterative process where designers test things out to find the right solution.
Prepare a list of all the touch-points that a brand user will come in contact with.
First you need to figure out where the logo and other brand assets will be used.
Next, based on that you will be able to outline what sections your guidelines could include.
Here’s a simple step-by-step process to create a basic style guide:
As mentioned earlier, your style guide can contain just a few to a couple of hundreds of pages.
For example, the style guide I recently developed for one of my clients is quite comprehensive—it contains over 70 pages.
BTW—You can check it out when you download the brand guidelines kit.
The more people are involved in working with the brand, the more difficult it is to maintain consistency over time.
Consistency is key when it comes to branding.
Inexperienced designers often try to add their own flavor to the brand, often breaking the rules and therefore making your brand look inconsistent and weak.
The solutions to that problem is a well-developed style guide that will guide them in the development of marketing collateral and ultimately ensure that your brand is being presented in a unified way.
Looking to create a style guide?—Check out The Brand Guidelines Kit, which is my comprehensive style guide template that i use to deliver branding work to my clients.
Also check out my other relevant articles:
Do you have a great style guide to add to the list?—leave a comment.