The Importance of a Style Guide

Style guides, also known as brand books or manuals, are a vital marketing tool. That might sound biased and exaggerated, but they really are very important. They typically include information on logos, color, typography, imagery, and sometimes on the brand mission, tone and voice; each item is clearly explained with examples on how to use them. Every item in the guide is carefully considered by a designer or writer.

Having a shareable style guide ensures that everyone is aware of those things and that everyone is actively working towards maintaining the clarity of the brand. Plus, it saves your team vital time. Here are a few specific reasons that creating a style guide, and keeping it up to date, should be an essential part of your marketing efforts.

Brand Consistency

Typefaces, colors, correct logo usage, and imagery examples can all be found in almost any style guide. Having a reference document gives everyone the information they need to stay on brand, whether it’s ordering giveaways for your upcoming trade show, creating sales collateral, or building your web presence. It might seem like using a slightly different color or font weight isn’t that big of deal, but maintaining a consistent brand helps your consumers recognize you, while making you look polished and professional. For example, all of those brand pieces—the giveaways, sales collateral, and website—could come together at a trade show, and if they are all slightly off brand, your consumers will be able to tell. Imagine going to a Coca Cola booth, where all of their classic reds were slightly different? It could change the way you view the brand, and with enough of those inconsistent brand experiences over time, the impact would be significant.

Introducing The Brand

Let’s say you’ve hired a new member to your marketing team, or started working with a new agency to assist your marketing efforts. How do you talk to them about your brand? Can you remember to relate every detail off the top of your head? How well will they remember what you’ve told them? A style guide can make this process so much simpler. Hand over the document and ask if they have any questions. Done.

This is also why it’s so important to make sure the style guide stays up to date. For example, if your brand guide includes a set of typefaces but it was later decided that one of them should only be used under very special circumstances and that type of information needs to be added in as soon as possible. This will keep the brand consistent and save time by preventing mistakes that need to be fixed.

Focused Brand Intent

By utilizing a style guide across your business, you can keep your brand on a clear, forward-moving track. Every one of the elements set in a style guide was picked for a reason; your company values and goals influenced all of it and represent those ideas. Flipping through your style guide, especially when the document includes the brand mission, voice and tone, can help you realize if you are acting on or representing the core values of your business and attracting the right people to your brand. Having a detailed style guide on hand makes the

 

Style guides are recognized by brands large and small across the globe for the powerful marketing tools they are. What brands do you aspire to be or wish you could emulate? Many companies now have digital copies of their style guides online and are wonderful examples of what they can do. Two really good style guide examples are John Hopkins University and Absolut Vodka; both have great, in-depth digital style guides that are worth looking at.