Style Guides?

Defeye Creative - Style Guides

The main purpose of this journal entry is to discuss the importance of an identity style guide (not a brand guidelines manual) and the growing awareness of identity consistency, which small independent businesses are beginning to take more interest in. This awareness of consistency usually begins with a considered style guide that is created for the benefit of the client and presented upon final delivery of a project. The images in this journal article are one of our recent style guides for an independent Silk Painter.

We consider an identity style guide to be a stand alone product compared to a brand guideline manual. We treat a style guide as a means to explore how an Identity should perform materialistically whereas a brand guideline manual explores the overall approach, communication and values of an organisation and how it is to be transferred across all facets of a business. Style guides are a great way to accompany an identity refresh if a company/business doesn't want to re-address the whole organisation and how it performs from top to bottom.

Not too far in the distant past small businesses and individual business owners were not overly bothered about knowing how their identity has been built or how to get the most out of it through suggested guidelines. It was a matter of "I just want a logo and I will put it on stuff when I see fit". This is fine of course, but any responsible creative company will have structured and built in to the design process - identity concept, reproduction sizes, clearspace, positioning, colour palettes, typography, layout etc, etc... So, why not have it packaged up and presented in a way that will be beneficial to the client.

The old "I just need a logo" mindset is shifting and small businesses and individuals are beginning to feel the benefits of having clarity, control and guides that help them to communicate their identity in the best way possible. After all knowledge is power and power breeds confidence. We typically judge how in-depth a style guide should be on a number of factors. One being the size and scope of the business, the maturity of the business and the real need for overly complex or simplified information that the client will understand and would be likely to use.

The example in this journal article is a entry level edition - Meaning the client is most likely to use the identity across limited platforms, therefore we have demonstrated specific key elements that they will need to know when using their identity.

We have limited the guide to identity structure and how the identity has been built, maximum and minimum reproduction heights, identity font use and style, colour profiles, do's and don'ts, identity use across selected platforms, positioning, hierarchy and file formats. Each section, where appropriate, has a summary of the most important points. The example style guide in this article was printed on 260gsm uncoated (cover stock) and inners printed on 170gsm premium silk to give the booklet a feel of ownership and quality.

A style guide is perfect for new and existing clients who have a smaller budget but still want an identity without the need for a whole brand re-design and it offers us the opportunity to work with smaller and ambitious companies with a real focus on who they are and what they want to do. A style guide is in no way a replacement for a brand manual and should not be seen as such, but it should be viewed as an important element of any identity refresh.