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Why Style Guides Matter?

A style guide is a set of rules and guidelines for implementing the logo and building the brand identity. It often comes in a PDF document or a Powerpoint presentation. A style guide defines essential aspects of the visual identity such as color palette, font choices, photography, iconography, and rules around using the logo in different situations.  
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Such guides vary in their complexity and depth. They span from the basic 10-page booklet with color and font suggestions to the intimidating 500+ page branding manual with strict rules and clear standards for creating text, print materials, digital media, and everything else within the brand identity. 

 

Why I never hand over a logo without a Style Guide

What beginner logo designers get wrong is focusing too much on the logo and not thinking ahead. Back in the days when I was starting as a designer, I was guilty of making the same mistake – I would focus on creating a pretty logo and miss the big picture of the visual identity as a whole. I quickly realized that even the sharpest-looking logo is not enough to tell an engaging visual story on its own. You also need a combination of colors, imagery, typography, and brand elements – a whole visual ecosystem with its own distinct personality.
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As I grew in experience, I started to look at logo design from a holistic perspective. I started developing brand guidelines and elements that interact with the logo to create a complete visual experience. Examples of such brand elements created for famous brands would be the Ronald McDonald mascot and the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks. Such elements are not the logo or the main focus of the visual identity but are there to add just a little bit of extra magic to the visual language. 
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These days I never finish a logo design project without handing over a comprehensive style guide. In doing so, I leave the client with more than just a basic logo design and no clue how to use it or how to go about further building the identity. In my Style Guides, I try to be as creative as possible while also remaining grounded and consistent. I not only create rules and use cases but also provide icons, branding elements, and even mascots that can be used in conjunction with the logo to add more personality and charm to the brand.

A well-made Style Guide will lay the foundation for the whole corporate identity. It can be handed over to a web designer to aid them in building your company website or to a printer to assist them in printing materials that are aligned with your brand. Your Style Guide will save you time whenever you hire a new designer to create a new brochure or poster for the company – they will already have the building blocks for the new design and won’t have to reinvent the wheel. Above all, by defining the rules for creating new design assets, the style guide helps ensure consistency and build credibility through repetition. 

 

How I create my Style Guides

When I do corporate identity work, I rarely have in my head all the pieces for building the Style Guide from the moment I come up with the winning logo idea. Usually, when I get hired to work on a logo, I also work on packaging for the brand or stationery/merchandise/UX icons. When I work on other brand assets besides the logo, I start to get ideas on how the logo can extend into a complete visual language. I think about what rules and systems can be put into place to create consistency through repetitive use of color, typography, imagery, brand elements, or combinations of these.

Even as I am first sketching out thumbnail-sized logo ideas on paper, I am always considering how the sketch can evolve into a potential logo and what the design elements and visual language around that logo would look like. It’s not enough for the symbol itself to look clever and iconic – it has to allow for a rich and compelling visual language built around it. I will discard a clever-looking logo mark that has no potential to evolve for a less glamorous design that has better chances of growing into a solid and coherent visual identity. 

To sum up

A Style Guide is indispensable when creating a corporate identity because it goes beyond the logo and defines the visual language’s whole look & feel, and personality. It also ensures cohesion within the visual language – It creates consistency between all graphical representations of the brand – website, stationery designs, and merchandise. Consistency is vital because it builds trust and credibility – a cohesive and logical visual representation of the brand is also satisfying and 

Herehere and here you can find examples of style guides that I have built for clients.

And here you can learn more about my corporate identity design process.