Your brand style guide is not only important for your brand as a whole, but also for the design and performance of your website, as well as your users' experience of your site and brand. Your website is an extension of your brand story, and your brand style guide is what will help you tell it.
What’s so great about a brand style guide?
The brand style guide has great value for anybody who is invested in your website and brand story. It’ll make your life easier down the road, saving you time and money, and helping you hit your key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide a better experience for your audience. Here are a few benefits the guide has for your website:
- Saving time and getting your team on the same page.
Everything is already planned out and built, so it’s easy to consistently tell one cohesive story, saving you time when you need to add new content. Everyone on your team can use it: developers (whether in-house or a third party) can use the guide to build the site; your CEO can use the guide to communicate his or her vision to the design team; the design team can use the guide to create a consistent brand tone for any material that appears on the web; and so on.
- Improving your website performance.
Think about how to achieve your KPIs. Do you want form submissions, such as newsletter signups? Make it easy for your customers to find and fill out those forms using the colors, fonts, and buttons in your brand style guide. Do you want people to stay on your site and browse multiple pages? Make their experience on your website engaging and relevant with a clear and appealing visual scheme, image style, and content map and hierarchy.
- Providing a valuable experience for your customers.
If you truly believe in your product’s value, you should want your customers to engage with your brand so they can benefit from your product. Your brand style guide will help the right people want to hear your message and interact with your brand, and will provide them with a high-quality user experience on your website while they’re doing so.
What is a brand style guide?
A brand style guide is a collection of pre-designed elements, graphics, and rules that designers and developers should use in guiding the creation of a brand and its online presence. For the website in particular, this will ensure that separate website pieces remain consistent and tell a cohesive story. It comprises elements such as:
- Color palette. Defining a full color palette in your brand style guide will help set a visual scheme for your brand. For example, visitors to your website will perceive, before even reading your content, your brand story being told through colors.
- Typography. This is everything from the font style for web and print materials, to the hierarchy of type – that is, header, sub-header, and body styles and sizes. Both color and typography are also extremely important for website ADA compliance, such as keeping the colors and text readable will prevent straining readers’ eyes. Read more about why accessibility is important, and how to achieve it.
- Image style. What audience are you trying to reach, and what message or experience do you want them to hear or have? If your site uses all black-and-white images, having an unexpected full-color image will affect your website visitors’ experience of your brand. Or, if your target audience is young people, and you only show elderly adults, you’re giving your site visitors the wrong idea about who you’re trying to reach.
- Button styles, logo usage, drop-down menus, search functions, and more. This includes anything that might live on your website that you can repopulate on different pages. The goal is to make it possible for you to build as many pages as you want and still have your whole website look like it’s telling one story.
When we complete a brand style guide for our clients, we typically present it in the form of a PDF or an online accessible, interactive version, which will allow you to see what the brand style guide would look like in action, along with the exact specs in the CSS and HTML sketches we provide.
What does the brand style guide do?
A brand style guide tells the story of your design solution.
- It sets up general design principles that dictate the direction of all future projects.
- It demonstrates the image, identity, and style of your products, outlining a beautiful design that remains consistent in its use and look.
- It informs the entire look of your website and how the CSS and HTML will flow.
- Most importantly for your site, your brand style guide develops the product first, so that the site is built from the content up.
Everything you need to ensure a clear and cohesive brand experience for your audience is compiled with one guide that can be used by future marketing, development, or third-party production teams. Using your brand style guide, you can connect all the different elements of your website to tell your unique story to your specific target audience. Take your audience on a journey they won’t want to miss.
Check out the City of Boston's brand style guide to get an idea of what it looks like in action.