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Writing a style guide

Consistency is one of the foundation stones of a strong brand. Having a well-thought-out style guide is the best way to minimise brand miscommunications and inconsistencies as well as ensure continuity regardless of who produces content for your business. A style guide is a document that sets out the standards which define your brand. It includes elements like tone, grammar, logo design and usage, font and colour palette. This page outlines all the elements that should be included in a brand style guide.

Section 1: Writing

How your brand expresses itself through language makes up a significant proportion of your image. This section should include grammar, formatting and syntax, and tone of voice.

Grammar, formatting and syntax

The easiest way to approach this is by finding an existing style guide (like the AP Stylebook) and then outlining how your company differs. Examples might include use of the Oxford comma, compound words, capitalisations of words in headings, and whether you use Australian, UK or US English (for businesses with an international clientele). How you format documents (i.e. whether you use dot points or dashes and hyphenation) should also be noted.

Tone of voice

What does your brand sound like? Is it polished and professional? Colloquial and relatable? Use examples to illustrate what your brand tone sounds like. This section may also include words or terms you don’t want used in content as well as those that you do (i.e. a food brand might want to emphasise the term ‘wholesome’ but avoid use of the term ‘organic’).

Section 2: Visual

The other part of your style guide should outline how you want your brand to be visually represented. This section should include fonts, colours, logo and formats.

Fonts

Detail the fonts and iterations (i.e. bold, italic, underlined) that should be used in paragraphs, headings, quotes etc. You may also want to put a limit on how small or large certain types of text can be.

Colours

Lay out your brand’s colour palette with the CMYK, RGB, hex and Pantone codes for each colour as well as how you want them to be used.

Logo

Include all variations of your logo and detail the do's and don'ts (i.e. use the full colour version on a white background, do not use the white version on a textured background).

Formats

Make sure your guide covers how visuals will appear across all platforms that your company uses. For example, a company might choose to use a subdued colour as the dominant logo tone for their LinkedIn page, but have a more colourful iteration for their Facebook page.