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Why You Need A Style Guide (Even If You Think You Don’t)

That’s right: your business needs a style guide, no ifs, ands, or buts. We talk quite a bit about branding at Dowitcher HQ and a style guide is a really handy thing for clients’ to have prior to embarking on a design project or marketing campaign.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a document that helps creators make consistent, on-brand content. It’s a set of standards that help establish a strong brand identity and define and guide your company’s style.

What goes into a style guide?

Many focus on language (tone, style, grammar, word usage). Others reference visuals, colors, logo usage, and more. Let’s discuss a few fundamental elements to any thorough style guide.

boilerplate

A good starting place is with an “About Us” section – your mission statement or boilerplate. If needed, revise the language to properly reflect your brand’s voice. (Are you conversational? Technical? Formal?) A general overview of your brand and your audience is key to a well-though-out style guide.

logo

Include your brand’s logo, plus any derivatives, so that everyone is using it the way you want them to. Document its color formats for web and print and instructions about the minimum size, and the size in relationship to other assets such as taglines. It’s also a smart idea to include logo treatments to avoid. This important section of your style guide helps maintain the integrity of your brand’s visual identity.

typefaces

In this section, you want to include the typefaces used in the logo and marketing materials – with their weights and web-safe alternative. Differentiate between fonts used for titles, headers, and body copy. If needed, write down any formatting preferences.

web styles

These are guidelines for developers so they keep elements such as buttons and forms consistent across webpages. You’ll want to include color palette with both RGB and CMYK details.

miscellaneous additions

This might include writing samples, language to avoid, templates, and your preferred photography compositions. These are all helpful indications of your brand’s style and voice.

This can start adding up to a lot of information! As you develop your style guide, be sure to cover only key points and consider the need to keep it scannable and simple. Anything too long is difficult to digest.

Why does your brand need a style guide?

A successful style guide puts the audience first. (Who are you communicating with? How do they want to spoken to and what kind of visuals do they engage with?) It creates an engaging voice and personality that further fosters connections.

  1. Helps content creators communicate consistent messaging: A brand style guide ensures all content creators are using a writing style that aligns with your brand voice. A cohesive, strong brand voice helps to resonate with your target audience, build brand awareness, and guide your company’s message.
  2. Makes the process of on-boarding agencies and freelancers easier: It’s essential to keep brand identity consistent, recognizable, and easy to own. Even if you have multiple people developing content, a defined guideline achieves continuity and helps assist in any initial training.
  3. Makes it easy to switch between internal stakeholders: Again, it’s nice to have standards in place so anyone in your company who creates something (a flier, press release, social graphic) will make something that reflect’s your brand’s style.
  4. Guarantees professionalism: Creating a complete guide ensures published content is polished, enjoyable, and recognizable. It reflects your brand values and maintains your external image at every touch point.
  5. Saves time and money: Let’s be real. It’s a waste of resources to go back and forth and forth and back with a writer or designer. All those revisions will eat your budget and it’s not efficient. A proper style guide answers initial format and style questions.

We hope you are inspired to take the time and resources to get it right! (And if not, we’re happy to help out.)

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If your business publishes content, you need a style guide. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking but it’s a tool that gets everyone on the same page and keeps content consistent.

Got a project? Give us a call, whether you have a style guide or not!

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