Style Guides: striking the right balance
What is a style guide and why does your brand or business need one?
To answer the latter, we must first come to terms with what a style guide is. A style guide or brand guide is essentially the CI or Corporate Identity Manual of a brand or business. Now you might be thinking, oh that’s easy, it’s that fruit with the bite out of it or that restaurant with the giant ‘M’. Though the logo does form an important part of a style guide, it is only one of the many toppings on the brand pizza.
If the employees are the heart and soul of the business, the style guide is essentially the skin or face that everyone sees. It is a document or guide that presents, defines and describes exactly what your brand visually looks like in the media, whether print or digital. From advertisements, business cards and letterheads to websites, blogs and videos; it can also define what tone and point of view your brand puts across.
That being said, a style guide can be a brand encyclopaedia, a meticulous document with strict rules that everyone has to adhere too. These documents can be many pages and at the end of the day seem more like a binding contract than a guide. Brands that employ such strict styles guides are often large corporate enterprises like Apple, Adobe, etc. Or it can be, as the name intends, a guide to help employees or outside parties with dos and don’ts but still be fun and easy to use. A great example is the style guide used by Skype. Skype uses easy-to-understand explanations and cool illustrations to explain to and guide the user, instead of pages filled with industry jargon that the regular user won’t understand.
As you can see, there are two very different ways to go about it, and of course some middle ground. A guide, that I felt, fits perfectly in the middle is that of British public-service television broadcaster, Channel 4. Their style guide is comprehensive yet simple, clean and uncluttered, making it easy to use and understand.
Paul Wyatt, a filmmaker, creative director and design writer, wrote a ‘How to guide’ in which he gives 25 tips on how to create a design style guide. This is a great article and one that you should definitely take a look at if you are going to create a style guide for your brand; and if you’d rather leave it to the professionals get in touch to chat about your brand today.
Now that you have an idea of what a style guide is, it should be clear why a brand or business needs one and how important it is to the overall look of the brand. A style guide ensures that whenever and wherever a brand is used, it is done so uniformly and with the creative consistency that makes the brand or business unique. Here at Yellow Door Collective, we use this concept of a clear and easy-to-use style guide to help, not only our designers but all our employees, understand the brand and style of each client.
To conclude this personal interpretation of creativity, here are some pointers on what to include when creating a style guide:
- An overview of the brand or business
- Logos, including sizes, colours and examples of how and where you can use them
- Colour and spacing
- Layouts, grids and examples of the brand in different formats, both print and digital
- And finally, package it all together in a simple, clean and concise way that makes it easy to use.
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