How to Create a Style Guide
I briefly mentioned style guides in my previous blog, and today we’re going to talk about how to make one. There are a lot of components that make up a style guide, so I’m going to break down each part and give you examples.
The style guide I’ll be using as an example is one that I created for Revolution Church. The copy was all written by a copywriter, not myself. Here it’s called a brand deck, which is just another word for style guide. You could also called it brand guidelines. Let’s get started!
It’s usually a good idea to start your style guide with some kind of introduction. Explaining who you are and what you’re selling/doing. In this case, Revolution had a list of words that they wanted to live by, so those words were explained in this introduction.
Next up is logos! You want to include the logo in every color it’s allowed to be shown in. Here it’s black, blue, gray, and white. Make sure to show any variation of the logo as well. Here we have an option with the city added and just the ‘R’ mark. It also shows how the tagline can be used. Some style guides show how not to use the logo, but I prefer to just have a list explaining what you can and can’t do.
Having a color palette with RGB, CMYK, and Hex # is really important! That ensures that anyone who makes something for the brand will use the exact colors they’re supposed to. You can also add PMS as well, but in this case they didn’t need that. I also included a little ‘rules’ section to reinforce the importance of only using these colors, but that’s not usually necessary.
Most brands have a main font that they stick with, and maybe another font or two for secondary copy. It’s important to specify what font goes where, and include bold, italics, all caps, etc. For this guide, I did headers, subheaders, short lines of copy, and body copy. You could also add photo overlay copy or anything else that is relevant to the brand. If the brand does not have a font, you should suggest they choose one (or let you choose one) so that they look more streamlined.
This won’t be relevant to every brand, but for Revolution it was really important. They take a lot of photos and are active on social media, so I needed to show them the style of photography so that anyone who takes photos or posts on their social media knows what it should look like. They have a social media photography team, so I also added specific instructions for shooting and editing.
VOICE & COMMUNICATION
Again, not every brand will have this. But if they write a lot of captions on social media, have a lot of copy on their website, or anything like that, it’s important for them to streamline their voice. This is obviously not something that you will write (unless you do that type of thing), so ask them for direction.
There may be other things that make sense for the brand to have, like maybe guidelines for video or social media, so you’ll have to work with them to find out what will work best for them. You want this guide to make their lives easier and to take their brand to the next level. It should be clear and easy to follow.
So there you have it, everything you need to make a killer style guide!