A style guide shouldn’t read like the work of a control freak, but nor should it be vague and ambiguous. Paul Wyatt explains how to strike the right balance.
Here are (some of the best) tips for ensuring your style guide does the job right in ensuring others do it right.
It doesn’t have to be perfect
Obviously we’d all love to spend time and energy crafting the perfect design style guide for each project. But in the real world, that’s not always possible. If you’re up against a tight deadline and not able to create a style guide with lots of bells and whistles (and examples), be sure to include the most pertinent and helpful information about the brand or piece of work you’re created in the time you do have.
information about logos; font usage; colour palette; tone of voice
If you have enough time, it’s worth adding some examples of logo and typographic usage as well as links to master artwork/ brand collateral templates and helpful contacts within your agency or company.
Concentrate on the visible
Look around your workplace and you’ll (hopefully) see colleagues who look presentable and are nicely dressed. Quite possibly a large percentage of these people do not have matching pants and socks or bras and knickers. But who cares? You (hopefully) don’t get to see them. Similarly, in your style guide concentrate on the visible and the relevant. Try not to deep dive into creating colour palettes which then have sub colour palettes and then further sub, sub colour palettes which might never be used or seen.
Work with a copywriter to energise and communicate the brand. This style guide potentially will be used client-side by the in-house creative team or sent out to other agencies to be applied in future work.
For your guide to be applied successfully it’s essential to communicate effectively in written form the brand spirit; the reason behind the work; what the guide is there for; and what the brand goals are that the creative using the guide should be mindful of.
At the end of the guide include relevant contacts and create a group email address should the reader have any queries about the guide and need to get in touch should there be something the guide does not explain. Although if you’ve included all the relevant details in your guide this should very rarely happen.
Also consider creating an FAQ as part of the guide and think about the top 20 questions a creative might ask about a brand when they first approach it. “I hate your logo. Do I have to use it?” is a question which isn’t allowed.
Create art-worked examples
Art-working up examples of creative templates can be a great way to showcase how the guide can be interpreted. Also consider supplying these files for download with the style guide.
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