When it comes to the crazy, busy, overwhelming, noisy and information crammed space called the internet there is nothing less motivating than wasting time creating brilliant content that no one reads or shares. But what’s even worse is if you create brilliance and no one recognizes that it’s yours. The best way to ensure people know who created something, without even looking, is to build a strong brand. You digital presence is going to be everywhere. Once you start creating and sharing greatness it is going to be liked and shared and spread throughout the internet. People who don’t know you will. But nothing sticks in people memories more than visuals. So you have to use visuals to make people remember you. When you’re creating visuals the key to remember is they must be consistent. You don’t want to have a mish-mash floating around on the internet confusing the marketplace and not adding value to your digital existence. What must be consistent? I’m glad you asked. This is where a Style Guide becomes critical. Your style guide includes all of the elements you’ll need on hand when you are creating those memorable visuals.
Your style guide must include:
Preferable in a couple of formats or layouts so it can be used in horizontal applications or vertical situations. It should have a transparent background so you can place it over anything and not detract from the image, but just add a subtle brand.
Typically you should stick to 2 fonts. Say 1 for headings, headlines etc and 1 for quotes, highlighting words, maybe references etc. The fonts should work well together and match the style of your offline branding such as your brochures, business card, signage etc, and your online branding like your website.
It is very important that you know and use your brand colours. Blue is not blue. Blue can be thousands of shades of blue. As can red, pink, green and purple. Keep the hex or rgb colour code for each colour in your style guide and use it ALWAYS.
Some businesses have a tag line, values, brand messages, unique selling proposition or similar which describes what they deliver, to who and how they do that. These phrases are important. Your branding should use those words and messages or at least not be in conflict with those.
If you have a set of images you use for your business promotion, branded material or marketing you must use those in your online presence also. For example, your headshot or personal image – if you use an image on your business card, your website and your brochures, you should include that image in your style guide for use in the digital space also. Your style guide may be a folder on your desktop or your dropbox, it may be in a document. No matter which format, it should be your go to place for quick reference when creating digital images (which I’ve written a guide to over here).