Monday, October 22, 2018

Why You Need a Style Guide and How to Create One

There is no real way to manage a brand visually unless everyone represents it consistently. To do this the client and those who work with them need to be in agreement on the visual language, standards, and instructions on use. And one the best ways to do this is documenting what the elements are, and how they are to be used.

This documentation is called a style guide or brand guidelines.

How do you create a style guide?

I’ve found the best way to go about creating one is to start with three simple elements.

The Logo

Considering the logo first, think about how the logo should be used consistently. Here are some considerations:
  • Where should the logo be located in various applications?
  • How much space should be around it?
  • What will it look like on light and dark backgrounds?
  • Are there any co-branding considerations?
If the logo is part of a sub-brand or parent brand, how should it relate to the other brand items?


The next logical item to consider is the color scheme. Hopefully at this point colors have been discussed for the logo. So, combining colors should compliment the logo colors. But, how should it be approached?

Everything will depend on what the brand is trying to communicate. If it’s a sense of surprise or excitement, try a complementary color scheme. If it’s calm and assurance, try an analogous scheme. If it’s stability, maybe a monochrome approach with an accent color.

Once this is determined and approved, show the colors in order of prominence with the appropriate Hex, RGB, CMYK, and PMS color numbers. This assures color consistency throughout different applications.


After that, think about the fonts. The logo, colors, and how the brand should communicate will determine the fonts that will be appropriate to use. The safest approach is to choose a font family and stick with that. It’s consistent and straight forward.

Other than that, pick a font that can be used as body copy and has the feel you’re going after. And choose a headline font that compliments it. And consider that what works for print may not work on screen. So, you might have to consider choosing fonts that will be used for each application but complement each other.

Once you have the fonts decided, show a sample of each font with the corresponding font names.

Everything Else

After these three major areas are established everything else should come together logically. The next items to think about are photography, illustration, and even patterns. There should be a consistent look and feel. It’s a good idea to commission these items to be created exclusively for and shared throughout the organization and be a part of the style guide. But it’s more important to establish a look that can be replicated consistently.

Photo courtesy Rawpixel at

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