The Importance of a Style Guide
No matter how well you know your brand, it’s a good idea to have style guidelines to reinforce your vision. Not only will it help your staff communicate the brand consistently, whether writing an email or making a social post, it will also signal your commitment to quality. (Read more of our thoughts on marketing signaling).
Writing, Formatting, and Design - The Elements of Style
Put simply, a style guide is a set of standards for writing, formatting, and design to which your copy and creative are to adhere. It also serves as a set of instructions for any and all circumstances that you and your staff (or marketing agency) will need to adapt your branding to.
There are no set guidelines for creating a style guide, so what should be included? Here are some of the most common examples:
- Copy: Style guides aren’t just for your creative team; they’re for anyone in your company who writes an email. It’s important to have copy guidelines along with key messages, so that your company has a unified voice. Keep in mind that copy needs to appeal to your customers and prospects. Tailor your company’s unique voice to really “speak” their language.
Be sure to keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, too. Your website should include (but not be overwhelmed by) the key words that drive search and that you’re bidding on in Google and Microsoft Ads. Incorporating these words and phrases naturally can be difficult, so look to some SEO writing experts to help you out.
- Logo: Your logo is the face of your company, so it deserves respect. With guidelines defining size, shape, and color, you can establish a consistent look while having the flexibility to use your logo anywhere.
For example, if your logo is distinctly horizontal or vertical, consider how to approach the square- or circle-crop on social media.
- Fonts: Although we may be drawn to fonts that look “cool,” legibility is important to consider when selecting fonts for your website, email, memos, and collateral. Check out our blog on fonts for some typography best practices.
- Colors: That’s right, a color palette should have a place in your style guide. Brands are often associated with the primary color(s) in their logo. Think of Starbucks and their iconic green, the bright yellow of Caterpillar, or the deep purple worn by Prince, a fellow native of SCG’s home state. A limited palette of complementary colors will be helpful when creating graphics for a range of collateral, while emphasizing your identifying colors.
Depending on your company and the industry it’s in, you may have more elements to consider when creating your company’s guide. Anything from photography and illustration, to video, to wording can be incorporated.
The Importance of a Style Guide
Although it may seem tedious (or restrictive of your team’s creative and writing) to develop and stick to a brand style guide, it’s an important step in conveying your company as a serious competitor in the industry.
Having a style guide maintains consistency, making it easier for customers and prospects to recognize and affiliate themselves with you. If you’re inconsistent with messaging or colors, it may be more difficult to create long-term customer loyalty, even among clients who once aligned with your brand.
Although your voice, copy points, and design elements are not the only aspects of your company (we have not overlooked the importance of your product or service), switching things up too often suggests a lack of commitment to your brand. And if you’re not committed, why should your customers be?
That’s not to say you can never adjust your branding; in fact, occasional updates are important. They signal that your company is on the cutting edge and opens the door to showcase your expertise.
Finally, having a well thought out style guide will help you and your team show that you have put thought into even the smallest aspects of your business. These are the markings of an established, credible, and reliable company people want to work with (or work for). It shows you know who you are and what you’re about.
Looking to establish your branding, but aren’t sure where to start? SCG has been bringing brands’ visions to life for over three decades. Give us a holler, and we’ll help give your brand a boost.