How to create a style guide
Posted on: December 14, 2021
A style guide is an essential way to ensure consistency, both in the visuals and words you choose. We explore the basics and offer some best practice advice.
A style guide is an essential part of your charity toolkit. It’s the one way you can create a consistent identity right across your organisation.
Consistent use of logos and language helps to create a professional, coherent and strong brand. And the benefits of that are far-reaching – making your brand recognisable to wider audiences, conveying that you’re a trustworthy and reliable charity, driving forward your mission, and strengthening your values both inside and outside the organisation.
Creating a style guide can be an involved project, using outside branding consultants and big budgets. But equally, if your charity is small or just getting off the ground, it can simply be a concise Word doc that outlines a few key rules for everyone to use.
The important thing is to make sure it works for your organisation. You might want to start small with key information around logos, colour and words to watch out for. You can always add to it later. And remember, style guides can easily become unwieldy, so make sure it’s quick to refer to – or it might never get used.
Here are the key sections and information you’ll need to include.
Making your organisation’s visual identity consistent is crucial to create a strong, recognisable brand.
Show all versions of your logo along with examples of how to use them (including placement, sizes, and exclusion zones). If you have old versions, you might want to include them to remind people not to use them. Examples of how not to use the logo can also be useful (for example, not stretching them, changing colours, or adding extra text).
Which fonts do you use? And when do you use them? For example, do you always avoid using italics in headings? Choose whichever fonts you think best represent your organisation’s personality, but above all, make sure they are clear and easy to read. Recite Me has an accessible fonts guide.
What are your brand colours? You might have a core palette of three colours, and a slightly wider selection of secondary colours. If possible, include the RGB and Hex values (for digital) and CMYK and Pantone refs (for print). This is particularly helpful if using external designers.
Pull together some key guidelines about the kinds of images and photography you want to use. For example, you might want to only show active images, or focus on images of the positive outcomes your charity creates.