Plus a free organizer on Canva to get you started
I’ve always appreciated a good style guide, but not since starting a content marketing service have I appreciated how much time they can save on a day-to-day basis.
Fullsteam Content Marketing is going great, by the way. We’ve got happy clients and the work is enjoyable. Every month we’re cranking out top-notch, custom content for our clients. We even set up a booth earlier this year at the North Charleston Business Expo (see photo). Don’t worry, my mid-life crisis is over and my mustache is gone forever.
Fullsteam clients receive a monthly smorgasbord of content: blog articles, social media posts, and email newsletters. Each deliverable requires a visual graphic (or three!). Since the pricing for Fullsteam is flat, I have an incentive to get the designs done in a timely manner. I’ve noticed that clients with a distinctly defined visual brand take significantly less time and effort. Not only that, I find that a well-designed set of visual guardrails increases the amount of creativity I can put into a project. It’s win-win. And these guardrails and guidelines are what a branded style guide is all about.
A strong visual style guide lays out the boundaries for a brand and remains true to an organization’s identity
Ready to build one? I’ll show you what to put in it below. I’ve even created one for Fullsteam and use it as an example. But first, let’s look at the benefits of having a style guide. It takes a lot of work to put one together, right? It’s got to have ROI.
4 Reasons to Invest in a Visual Style Guide
- Gain clarity – When you assess and organize all your brand assets, you may realize you’re not excited about what you’re looking at. Maybe you’ve outgrown your old look. Or your new look hasn’t been thoroughly implemented. Or you might have some missing pieces. As an example, when filling out my Fullsteam style guide, I realized I was missing any kind of illustrations – that’s a gap I want to fill in the future.
- Project trustworthiness to potential clients – When you have an established and consistent brand identity, your business looks professional and polished. Potential customers and clients have a positive first impression of your business and how you can help them. They’re more likely to trust you.
- Build brand recognition – Marketing is all about consistency. You want current and potential customers to automatically recognize your brand. When you see a red bullseye, you think of Target. That’s because Target is consistent with its logo and its red color.
- Save time – Once your visual brand is established, you save a ton of time on your marketing efforts. You’re not wasting time trying to figure out fonts, colors, or an overall theme. Simply consult your style guide and trust your brand plan. This is particularly helpful if you don’t have an in-house marketing team or if you work with outside contractors.
What’s in your style guide
Brand guidelines, visual style guides, brand manuals – whatever you want to call them – come in many shapes and sizes. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can start small and add elements as you go grow.
From my experience, a robust visual style guide has the following information:
- Color palette
- Typography / Fonts
- Icon styles
- Photography styles
- Photography treatments
- Illustrations styles
- Data Visualizations & UI elements
You can go on and on, of course. A huge corporation might have a brand book (which is more than just a visual style guide, of course) that is hundreds of pages long, but feel free to keep it simple at first. I put together the Fullsteam style guide in Canva and it’s just 9 pages. It’s a living document and will grow as I slowly build out the brand – starting with some illustrations! With this document, I can build out nearly any marketing asset I need with the full assurance that I’m creating stuff that’s “on brand”.
If you’d like to make your own style guide, feel free to use my free organizer on Canva. Open the link, save a copy, and start filling out the sections with the relevant information. Or if that seems too daunting, I’m always here to help.
Have a great week,