Words by Tess Robinson, Smack Bang Designs
Ever tried to put an Ikea flat pack together? You start out with great intentions, reading the instructions, inspecting the screws – but ten minutes and little bit of confidence later, those instructions are being used as a coaster and you’re free styling the assembly. End result? A nice attempt, but a slightly wonky, ill-fitting and untrustworthy chair.
The same thing can happen to your brand if you don’t take the time to read the instructions. “But what are these instructions?” we hear you ask. “I thought my brand was just my logo?”. Let us introduce you to a little something we like to call a Style Guide.
Just like a flat-pack, your brand is made up of lots of little parts. Some seem more important than others and some seem totally insignificant, but forget one piece of the puzzle and you could be parking your butt on a chair without an arm. A style guide not only includes your logo and how to use it, but is also made up of a type palette (what fonts to use when), brand colours, textures, imagery, extra graphic elements used in your brand … the list goes on. We are firm believers that each of these parts have a role (an important one at that) to play in creating and maintaining a successful brand story.
Consistency is, and always will be, King. Ever see The Commonwealth Bank experimenting with a bit of baby poo green in that logo? Didn’t think so. Your brand is much more than a great logo, it’s a combination, and great assembly of, all the little elements. Sticking to a clear and consistent style is what can set your brand apart, make it recognisable and keep it kicking goals. Consistent type, colours and use of imagery are paramount to building a great brand story – and your Style Guide is your how-to! It’ll tell you what colours to use when, how much space to leave around your logo so it doesn’t look crowded, what font to use for a heading and what to use for a pull-quote. Sticking to these guides will, over time, allow your brand to last the distance, and to do it in style. Another good thing about Style Guides? They’re clear, easy to follow and non-ambiguous. Even a flat pack rookie can work one.
THE WARRANTY + THE HELPLINE
The best part of a style guide is it’s 10+ year warranty. Your style guide is that piece (or pieces) of paper that guarantee the longevity of your brand. We all know that sales assistant who persistently tries to upsell you a warranty for your computer/iphone/dog leash. “Waste of money” we think. “Won’t ever need that!” we laugh. One day over your 1 year included warranty? Computer dies. Same goes for a style guide. But we’re not scammers, promise, we actually care about you getting your money’s worth and guaranteeing your satisfaction for the lifetime of your brand! It not only acts as your warranty to guarantee that that brand of your’s will stay in top notch condition, but it is also your helpline. Not sure what colour to use on that sticker you’re getting done? Trying to decide on what font to use on your promo postcards? Look no further than 1800StyleGuide.
THE FINISHED PRODUCT
The great thing about a style guide is it’s never ending options of end products. Forget this buy a chair, build a chair business. Give me the whole damn bedroom suite! A style guide will give you (and your designer) complete control, clarity and consistency across all brand assets. Business cards, post cards, swing tags, websites, email templates, stickers, social media promotions .. nearly everything can be created as a consistent part of your brand with the use of one Style Guide.
Not into struggling with a flat pack? We’d say invest in a Style Guide and you’ll be on your way to smooth aesthetic sailing faster than you can say stämpla (that’s brand, in Swedish).