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What is a brand style guide?

Information is everywhere now. And sometimes we just need to know what to look for. The good news is that there’s one thing that can solve a ton of awkward situations for your company. In branding, that one thing is called a style guide. But you might also have encountered them as style guidelines, brand guidelines, brand book, brand bible, brand manual or style manual. Regardless of what they’re called, at a minimum, it’s crucial for your branding strategy that you know what a brand style guide is and how it works.

Think of it as cooking: what if someone gave you a box of amazing ingredients like white truffles and wagyu steaks and fresh uni? Would you know what to do with them? Without a recipe, most of us would make Gordon Ramsay cry. In branding, your recipe is called brand style guide.

A brand style guide outlines the rules that designers (or anyone handling your content or brand assets) have to follow when they’re working with your brand.

And while the concept of a style guide sounds restrictive, sometimes it’s nice as a designer to have clear boundaries, to have that neat little sandbox to play in.

So set your workups for success. Ask for a style guide to go with your brand assets, at least the very minimum, that basic basic format. Yes, things will happen. But with style guides, you’ll be able to prevent 90% of the mishaps that we encounter in branding execution.

But style guides can go a lot deeper than that. For those of you who work in branding, you know this. They can be quite extensive. Style guides can be delivered in volumes, literally several huge printed books for one brand. Now that’s probably overkill, but it’s going to benefit you and the brands that you work on in the long run to have a detailed style guide.

Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t have a style guide, it’s never too late!

If you have a brand without the instruction manual to go with it, you can still create one. You can rest assured that this is going to astronomically increase your brand strategy, corporate identity and ultimately align your team’s vision.

Brand style guide sketches on paper.