By Account Supervisor Jessica Donahue
Whether you’re the lone wolf in your business or you manage a group of 200 plus, a style guide and template toolkit will help keep your brand and message on point. Marketing initiatives can take any shape or form if not given guidelines. A designer who’s unfamiliar with your business may see a cool font and, boom, your brand has been taken askew. Style guides and toolkits are extremely useful tools that help ensure a unified message is being delivered day in and day out, no matter who’s speaking.
A style guide outlines all the elements needed to keep your brand consistent. From the correct usage of logos, styles of fonts for headings and body text and everything in between, this guide, which documents all components of the brand, will ensure that your website, advertisements, marketing materials, merchandise, and any other communications conveying your businesses message have a consistent look and feel no matter who is in charge of design. And, having a toolkit with print and web-ready logos in approved styles, stationery examples in Word and PDF, a standard presentation template, advertisement examples, and more, makes it a breeze to bring new employees or contractors up to speed.
Another function of the style guide and toolkit is education. These materials define the standards for all internal and external communications and serve as a reference source and training tool for employees. A style guide establishes a voice and fine-tunes the brand’s positioning. By portraying a consistent message, the brand becomes stronger and more recognizable in the vast marketplace, allowing people to embrace and trust your brand.
When we, here at Marshall Communications, put together customized style guides for our clients, we take into account who will be using it, for what purpose and what the desired outcomes will be. Here are a few sample sections that might be covered in a typical style guide:
- Brand story and specifics of how the guide should be used
- The brand platform
- Logo specifics, including use with third-party logos
- Content tone
- Color variations
- Typography specifics
- Photography/Imagery, including iconography
- Web-specific elements
- Social media voice
- Tradeshow and event specifics, including dress code, appropriate booth conduct, etc.
- Specifics focused on printed collateral, digital media and other collateral, which could include interior and exterior signage as an example
- Contact information for key staff and contractors/vendors
As an example, the logo-specific section of the guide will present your logo, the dos and don’ts of its usage and how it should be displayed each time it’s used in print or on the web. It includes instruction on how small the logo can be made, acceptable variations, the fonts that are included, the color scheme (including all CMYK, RGB and PMS variations), and the type of elements that it can be used on.
The photography and imagery section will tell you the types of photography that can be used, specifics on filter treatments, sizing of the files and appropriate usage. Web-specific elements will tell you what web-based fonts to use within your website, icons to use, color schemes and so on.
Much of the time, our style guides are accompanied by a toolkit of templates. Anything from business stationery and envelopes to custom Prezi templates and social media icons could be included. It is really up to you! Having a full arsenal of all of these templates at your disposal makes it easy to maintain consistency and ensure professional looking communications, each and every time!
A ready-to-use template toolkit might include some of the following examples in various file formats:
- Business stationery, including letterhead, envelopes and business cards
- Email signatures
- Logo in variety of formats
- PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi templates
- Flyers and signage
- Social media icons for all platforms
An important benefit of using a style guide within your business is that it keeps your brand consistent and professional — it also saves you time and money. You’ll have quick answers to simple questions like “What font is the body text on my website?” or “Can I add a smiley face to my logo that I’m planning on embroidering on a polo?” A style guide and, certainly, a template toolkit will help streamline the process of creating new content and keeping it consistent with your brand. All of this might seem overwhelming to create but tackle it bit by bit and you’ll be surprised how fast it can come together. Or, you can reach out to us or a designer that you’ve worked with before to create the perfect style guide and template toolkit for your business.