What is a brand style guide?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - brand style guide

Have you ever thought about what makes a brand truly unique? Some marketers think all you need is a logo that nobody’s ever seen the likes of before, while others are of the opinion that how you speak sets you apart as a special brand. Both of those answers are correct, but only partially. When it comes to setting a brand apart, and ensuring consistency throughout your marketing materials, what you really need is a complete brand style guide. Here’s what a style guide is, and four essential elements to include:

Style guide defined

So, what the heck is a style guide? Well, here’s a scenario to illustrate its importance:

Imagine that you own a business and you decide to participate in some digital or traditional marketing in order to capture some more market share. You consider outsourcing it to a third-party agency, and make contact with one that is reasonable and has solid credibility. They ask you for your logo in two different formats, as well as hex codes for your brand colours and the specific fonts used in your logo and official PR materials, and you say…

This is why establishing a brand style guide soon after a business is launched is such a good idea. This ensures that you have all the necessary branding elements for any and all future marketing and advertising campaigns. The four elements of a brand style guide are:

  •  Logo and derivatives

Your brand logo is the most important element of your style guide. This is the graphic that your customers and the general public will associate with your business, and is the first element people will recognise when seeing your promotional messages. You should have image files of your logo in high resolution, in different colours (at least white and black), and these should include logo files with transparent backgrounds. There should also be different versions of your logo, with your slogan and without your slogan, etc.


  • Typefaces

Which font did your designer use when developing your brand logo? Are the fonts of your logo and your slogan different? Which fonts are being used on your website? Part of your brand style guide must shed light on the fonts to be used on promotional material, as well as:

  • Any bolded, italised or underlined text formatting
  • Any special text effects required
  • Font sizes and letter/line spacing
  • Brand colours

Once a viewer has noticed a brand’s logo, the next thing they perceive is the brand’s colour pallet. Colour theory reveals that certain colours and colour combinations affect people on an emotional level. Some business owners take this into account when selecting colours for their brand, while others just choose their favourite colour/s and go with that. Either way, a brand style guide should showcase your core brand colours, as well as a few auxiliary colours that can be used as accents. These colours should also have their hex or RGB codes (ask your designer if you don’t know what these are).


  • Content style

A brand style guide can also include notes on qualitative considerations, one of which is content style and tone. This looks at how your images, layouts and paragraphs of text are constructed. Certain words and tones of voice suit specific brands, playing an important role in how readers perceive the company. For example, a firm of attorneys won’t use street slang, but a skateboarding retailer might. This section of a style guide should also include a list of company words that require capitalisation when being used on marketing material.

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Brand management is an exciting, eye-opening field that encompasses both online and traditional marketing and advertising. Take a leap into a successful career in branding and marketing with a Brand Management course from DSM. Find out more about any of our digital marketing qualifications by contacting us today.

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