How to Build a Style Guide from Scratch

The purpose of a brand style guide is to help create consistency across all marketing materials. Let's break it down.

 min. read
September 17, 2021

A brand style guide is a document that outlines the company's branding and design standards. This can include colors, fonts, logos, spacing, and more. The purpose of a brand style guide is to help create consistency across all marketing materials. It also helps ensure that information is communicated in an appealing manner for customers. Without it, your message may be confusing or inconsistent with what was intended by designers and marketers alike. We've boiled our style guide creative process down to 5 necessary steps.

Choose A Medium

Depending on your needs you can create a PDF document or an entire dedicated website. The medium of your choice will also dictate the font size and page orientation.

You may find that you like creating guidelines in landscape letterhead format, so that way even if you’re unsure of what medium is your final choice— they can be printed using a regular printer, and they will look great on screen as well. Better safe than sorry!

Create a Table of Contents/Outline

While companies have varying needs and budgets- it is safe to say that all style guides should include at least: the logo do’s and don’ts, fonts, colors and examples of use. However, don’t stay too caught up in the visual specifics. A thorough brand outline should also include key elements of your overall brand strategy such as:

  • Application
  • Verbal Identity
  • Visual Identity

Start Laying Out The Content

Fleshing out your actual content is the easiest way to be sure that your guidelines are simple to apply. Within this step, you will cover the specifics of asset application, (logo, negative space, grid setup, etc) You may also find it helpful to clarify the common key mistakes and how best to avoid them. 

Include Example Applications

Once your content is laid out and cohesive, then it’s time to put a bow on it all with example applications. You should have several relative and real examples of how the identity comes into life: business cards, stationery, website design, etc.

The goal of this section is to give less creative folks a visual of the brand’s intention. This section should be less about explaining and more about showing.

Provide Brand Assets

The very last bit of your style guide should include some information or, ideally,  links to download source files. Links should include logo files and other supporting graphics. 

The most common reason why people ignore style guides is because there can be a bit of an easter egg hunt for the source files. 

That’s why it is valuable to generate an interactive PDF that is available online and includes links to logos and other visual assets—all in one place.