Having brand guidelines, or a style guide is important for quite a few reasons:
It establishes the voice of your company and keeps branding consistent through different types of marketing. This will lead your audience towards trusting your brand because it has a consistent voice.
There’s no mixup on colors or typefaces. This could be considered the most important since it’s so easy to notice, it can be embarrassing if there’s a mixup.
It saves a ton of time. When you work with a new designer, in-house or outsourced, the time saved when they have a brand guide to reference instead of having to research your brand is invaluable.
Alright, so you’ve realized what an important role brand guidelines plays in your company, let’s talk about some absolute basics of what should be in it.
Brand colors. You should have your primary colors, and accent colors if you have them. Be sure to specify which ones are the primary colors. It’s not enough to just have the color in the style guide, you should list the HEX code and the RGB code. This guarantees that there won’t be a silly mix up.
Fonts. If your brand only uses one font, great! But make sure to explain if certain styles are only to be used in certain cases, like using bold only for headlines, and italics only for captions. If you have more than one font you use in your brand, you’ll have to explain the correct uses for each one.
Logo. This is probably the most important thing, if you can’t have a brand guide, then at the very least you need to have restrictions on how your logo can be used. An example of what this could look like is below. It shows a simple logo that can be used in two different orientations, but also gives no room for error in sizing.
Outside of sizing, it is also a good plan to figure out a one color logo even if your primary design is multiple colors. This makes it far easier if your logo is to be used in cases where you can only print in one color. You can also specify all the colors that you don’t want your logo to be. Just another way to control the perception of your company for your audience.
So those are the basics for starting a set of brand guidelines, but there’s a ton more things you can put into them. If you’re primarily a web presence, you can explain how all links and should look on your website, or that all photos should have a special treatment, like a duotone or a color overlay.
Basically, the possibilities are endless, it just depends on how deep you want to get, and how consistent you want your branding to be.
If you want some inspiration, or examples of good brand guidelines check out these: