What is a style guide and do I need one?

Jamie Bridle / Founder
What is a style guide and do I need one?

Not all clients instantly understand the merits of a style guide. Most have heard the term, but not everyone we work with has experience of one. So, what exactly is a style guide? In short, a style guide (sometimes called a brand book or a brand guide), is a set of 'how to' guidelines explaining how all of your designed elements are used. Your logo, colours, messaging, photography style and more; how they all interact with one another to ensure your brand always presents itself in the best light.

Yeah, simple eh? So what now?

Well, imagine you have a team working with you. You can share a style guide with them so that everyone understands the brand and how its design standards are applied. Also, if you are working with a third party designer, agency or content creator, you would be able to give them the style guide, so they'd be able to produce consistent-looking and sounding collateral that would keep your brand on track.

Without a style guide, designs can alter and morph as they get worked on over time. This can leave a brand looking confused and in competition with itself, as the hierarchy of designed elements can become distorted.

Some third party designers might also feel the need to add their own spin on your branding, adding colours or using different fonts, as they feel compelled to do the thing they do and 'design' for you.

All of this inconsistency can become a dangerous place to get stuck in. It can happen so gradually (sometimes over years) that some brands don't even notice that they have several iterations of the same thing in circulation.

For customers, this can mean confusion and with that brings damage to a brand's reputation. If the presentation of a brand doesn't look uniform to a customer, if the messaging is inconsistent, a brand can appear amateurish. And we know what impact that can have overtime. Having to claw back your reputation and win the hearts and minds of customers isn't where any business wants to be.

To build and help maintain brand loyalty, make it paramount that the look and messaging of your brand remain consistent across all eventualities of a customer's experience. Every single time and place a customer comes into contact with your company, it should look and feel the same. And the simplest, most effective way of maintaining that consistency, is with the good old, humble style guide.

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