6 Tips for creating a style guide

Tips for creating a style guideline

Creating a style guide is no easy feat. It requires a knack for communicating the voice and visual components of a brand in a way that is easy to comprehend for even non-designers. Style guides are passed along to a variety of people in companies outside of designers. Therefore, it is important that individuals of any background can understand the guide and refer to it easily for whatever need may arise.

6 tips for creating a style guide effective

1. Include examples of different components

In your style guide, you may want to present specific visual components in your brand in a certain way. For instance, let’s say you want to specify that a drop shadow is required for a certain element. Non-designers are not often familiar with designer jargon for visual elements such as a “drop shadow.” Therefore, it is more effective to include visual examples of how such components should look like rather than only using text as a description.

2. Explain your thinking (explain choices)

Certain design choices may seem rational to one eye but irrational to another. That is why it is important to explain in a style guide why certain design choices are made. No one is a mind reader. Explaining why visual components from logos to other assets are designed in a specific way is crucial towards eliminating any confusion from readers of the style guide. Rationalising your thinking helps the reader further understand the voice of the brand.

Woman designing a style guideline

3. Include examples of what your brand DOES NOT embody

While it is important to include examples in your style guide of how and what your brand represents, it is equally crucial to list examples of what your brand does not embody.

For instance, this can include visual examples of how
you should not use the logo from overly stretched drop shadows to incorrect typography. Many agencies also widely use An “Is/Is Not section” in style guides. Adding this element can truly help your reader visualize and interpret the brand in the intended way.

style guide examples

4. Expect questions

Even if your style guide includes design explanations, you should still assume that questions may arise for different sections. Including an FAQ within your style guide will help clear up any potential questions readers may have. Try brainstorming the top questions both a creative and non-creative may pose about your brand after reading it. Adding a set of relevant contacts at the end of the guide will also help the reader when having any additional questions.

Team preparing for questions about  the style guide

5. Leave room for improvement

Brands are always evolving based on many factors from the nature of markets to different trends. Do not expect that your style guide is 100% set in stone. There is always room for brands to change and adapt over time. Therefore, your style guideline should reflect the possibility for these changes to take place. Otherwise, restricting a brand to concrete guidelines may prove to be highly ineffective in helping the brand grow in the future.

6. Establish Standards of Publishing

Different pieces of brand content should meet the standards in your style guide before posting. Therefore, it is important to outline certain criteria that your content should meet to publish it. For instance, this can include anything from meeting web accessibility standards to following Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines. Check out Co-Schedule’s article to see examples of their standards of performance for content.

There is a lot that goes behind style guides. However, these 6 tips will ensure that your guidelines will be further strengthened and readable for individuals from a variety of backgrounds including those who are non-designers. Style guides are highly important because they help communicate the voice of a brand and translate how it could possibly evolve in the future. That is why ensuring that it is robust and clear will prove to be effective in the long run.

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