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The importance of a Brand Style Guide

A Brand Style Guide is an incredibly powerful asset for designers and non-designers alike, learn how this asset can greatly benefit your process.

A Brand Style Guide is paramount in ensuring complete consistency across a brand, educating clients and fellow designers on this asset is incredibly important in ensuring clients be proud of their brand, understand design and the value of it. But, why is it that this single asset, being a Brand Style Guide is able to do this?

Imagine this scenario

You’re a designer, you land a new and exciting branding project, the client’s values align with yours and you’re absolutely pumped to jump into it, you conduct a discovery session with your client and now you’re even more excited, you’ve got a bunch of ideas coming to you on how you’re going to make this brand perfect for them (and also scratch that creative itch of yours). You go through the entire process and come out the other end with a happy client and you’re genuinely proud of the work you’ve done, the brand and logo mark look awesome.

Now, imagine this, 3 months down the track you see that logo that you worked so hard on slapped on a billboard, bus-stop, magazine, or on the web in the wrong colour, squished, skewed, and bunched up against other assets, it’s a total nightmare. Your heart sinks to your stomach and you freak out, you immediately take a picture and debate whether or not to call or email said client, you decide to only to learn that the client has enlisted a print company with no knowledge of the brand or someone on their internal team has implemented the logo and brand without the in-depth prior knowledge of the brand style that you have.

There’s gotta be a way to ensure that those interacting with and implementing the brand know as much as you, ‘the designer’, knows, and there is! A Brand Style Guide.

So, what exactly is a Brand Style Guide?

A Brand Style Guide or ‘Brand Guidelines’ is a comprehensive deep-dive into the brand, outlining how to use the logo, where it can be placed, what versions to use and how big it should be, examples of the logo in action (big and small), brand colours and colour pairings, typography, photography styles, illustrations styles, and anything else necessary (this can differ from brand to brand), essentially covering anything anyone would need in order to work with and implement the brand how the designer/design team intended.

Some people may have the thought that a Brand Style Guide is boring or restrictive in this sense, and though I disagree with this idea whole-heartedly, they may be right in some cases, but, sometimes it‘s incredibly important for it to be like this. For example, a government corporation would need extremely strict and defined guidelines, this is what we’d typically refer to as ‘boring or restrictive’ though these guidelines are incredibly crucial to have set in stone, without the Brand Style Guide in place, there’s a risk it could turn into a large a mess of inconsistencies, which would be hugely unprofessional coming from what is arguably the most professional industry, and that’s a risk they cannot take.

Though, a Brand Style Guide doesn’t have to be all corporate logos and very specifically placed lines down to the millimetre, they can be incredibly exciting when the opportunity is there, for example, a creative videography company, a dance studio or even a church may take an open, adaptable and creative approach to their brand and thus their Brand Guidelines would reflect that, designed more uniquely, providing many more options and being looser in terms of strict guidelines, though still having a strong foundation that allows for a cohesive brand image.

Consistency is key

The important thing is that a Brand Style Guide is in place to create consistency across the entire brand and create those strong foundations that can be built upon, allowing those working with the brand to feel comfortable enough to either follow strict guidelines or get a little creative within the bounds of that brand, whichever style guide they receive, they should always be completely prepared.
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