How to Create a Brand Style Guide

We’re going through the yearly exercise of reviewing brand style guides and preparing for each brand’s next iteration. This is an old guide for the Cabana brand–I’ll break it down to showcase crucial tools for consistent branding.

What’s in a Brand Style Guide?

First off – let’s take a look at the difference between a style guide and a brand guide:

Style guide = a document to show all the visual elements of a brand–logos, fonts, colors, patterns, visual guidelines etc.  

Brand guide = the above + pages that cover some of all of–tone of voice, messaging, art direction, campaign direction, user personas, etc.

A Review of the Cabana Brand Style Guide

Why use a whole page on logos in a brand style guide?

How to Create a Brand Style Guide (with Examples) | Product World

For logos to always represent the brand right, they often have rules about when versions with various colors are shown. Below we see how they show up on light and dark, and how best to space around them.

The colors page covers the main and secondary colors, and when they should be applied, plus the actual color codes for designers/printers.

How to Create a Brand Style Guide (with Examples) | Product World

This is especially important if you’re matching colors on printed products. Slight variances can lead to dramatic differences on shelf.

Same with fonts and typography – what fonts are used, in what application, what sizes, how do they look together, etc.

For more digital-focused brands, brand style guides exist in Figma or on a website with embedded styles for easy development.

In the rest of the guide we didn’t cover everything but we did hit:

  • art direction
  • target personas
  • photographic direction
  • tone of voice

Every brand and their needs are different:

How to Create a Brand Style Guide (with Examples) | Product World

This is from years ago. All our brands are evolving, and even subtle things can change what the brand needs to show.

When to Update Your Brand Style Guide

As voices change online, so does the voice of a brand. As mediums change, so do formats and performance of photography. Colors move in and out of vogue.

Having a strong brand doesn’t mean never changing – it’s about having a team that knows when it’s time to adapt, and iterates authentically, with excellent execution that is thoughtfully concepted.

The excellent designer of the Cabana brand was  Jarren Simmons.

Thanks for reading. See the original Brand Style Guide Twitter thread here.


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