The Branding Process: Keeping your business cohesive with a brand style guide - Download your free template


Once you have a logo and launch your business, you may think that the “branding” process is over. Oh, friend, do I have news for you. It’s only just beginning. Creating a brand that people know and trust takes work to keep your visual presence streamlined and cohesive. The work doesn’t stop once you have a logo.

If you’ve DIY’d your initial visual identity and have a primary logo, you’re off to a great start! Now it’s time to add on in order to build a strong and recognizable business. As you build your brand identity, it’s important to have a style guide to help keep all of your visual decisions cohesive with your brand. Much like the mood board you created, your style guide helps to guide your ship on a straight course to ensure that you aren’t confusing your ideal client.

Today I’m breaking down the brand style guide on what you should be including in yours and including a download to the exact style guide I use for my clients.

Leighwood Paperie >> THE BRANDING PROCESS: Keeping your brand cohesive with a style guide - Download your free template

What is a style guide, you ask?

A brand style guide contains all the important visual elements of your brand at one glance. Style guides come in many shapes and sizes and can include a bundle of information, depending on how large or small your business is. Larger businesses will have style books that include dos and don’ts for using various marks, as well as specific point sizes for specific projects. In your own business, a style guide can be a simple, one page document that you can refer to at a glance.

Leighwood Paperie >> Brand style guide

Let’s break down the elements of a style guide:

  • Your primary logo: Your primary logo is meant to be your main brand identifier. Your star. It can be used as your header image for your website, on packaging, or on your business cards. Often times, your primary logo will be horizontal, as that will be the most common application of your logo.

  • Alternate logo variations: Alternate logos can come in many shapes and sizes. With my clients, I offer two alternates: one a more vertical version of their primary logo as well as a submark. The vertical version is good for using in smaller settings where you don’t have a lot of horizontal space. Submarks are simplified marks, meant to give the most important information in small space. Photographers use their submarks to place on photographs as a watermark. They are also great for using at the footer of your website, or as a stamp.

  • Brand mark: Brand marks are stand alone graphical elements, oftentimes used in part of your primary logo. These should be simple and can be used alone to help identify your brand. I like to use the brand mark to help create unique patterns for clients.

  • Brand colors and textures: These can be pulled from your mood board. Your brand colors and textures will help to keep your visual strategy looking streamlined. As you plan Instagram posts, you can buy props that are in your brand colors, or use background textures in your brand textures. By keeping your colors aligned across all your platforms, you’ll help to keep your look cohesive. Be sure to include your hex codes (a six digit code with # in front of it) so that you can easily reference them as you’re building your website.

  • Inspiration (optional): If you keep your mood board handy, you don’t have to include inspiration photos. However, I like to include three of my favorite mood board images that really reflect their final brand.

  • Typefaces: The typefaces you include in your style guide can either include the typefaces that you used in your logo design, or coordinating typefaces that you’ll use on your website or on any other collateral designs. For my clients, I include both. Oftentimes you won’t use the typefaces used in your logo design, but as you build out other alternate marks, you may want them for reference. (Especially if you have a font library like I do…) I like to include coordinating typefaces as a recommendation to my clients to help make the process easier if I’m not the one building out their website, so that it can easily be passed along to another designer.

Today you can get the exact style guide that I use for my clients to help them keep their visual identity cohesive even after we work together. Download yours and get started on making your business more cohesive to help your business grow. (Adobe Illustrator needed to edit)

And once you’ve built your style guide, show me yours in the comments!