How to Improve Company Image Through a Style Guide

Having a good image is vital to your company. If people perceive the company as high-end, they will treat it like so. On the other hand, if they perceive it as a company run out of a garage, they will likewise treat it that way.

What makes up a company image? I’m going to make this one easy and just say everything. Yes, everything! The building, employees, executives, customer service, uniforms, social media presence, products, commercials, advertisements, website, company colors, photography, fonts, design, etc. I could go on and on. Essentially everything that others perceive (seen, smelled, felt, heard…) plays a role in your company image.

I’m going to focus on the visual side of things. The key element to begin managing, regulating and improving your company image is a brand style guide.

What is a Style Guide?

A style guide is a document that contains the ins and outs of how to carry out the designs and copy for the business. These aren’t meant to be restricting to designs, but rather to be the backbone of everything the company puts out for the public eye.

Why Do I Need a Style Guide?

If you are a business just starting out, a style guide will be the guiding star to everything you put out as a brand. It will keep everything that rolls out consistent with your desired image. If you end up contracting multiple designers throughout the lifetime of your company, it will be the vital link between each designer’s unique style.

If you are already a well-established business and don’t have a style guide, and happen to be reading this article (which you are) then you are seeking to improve your current image. All of the best brands you can name off in 5 seconds will be great examples of brand consistency. Just scroll through Apple’s Style Guide for just their affiliates! On page 43 it even tells them to avoid using maple hardwood and glacier white acrylic solid surfaces as it would make them look too much like the actual Apple store, which would be detrimental to Apple’s brand. Now compare that level of detail in your mind to your brand’s current level of consistency. Closing this gap between you and the most successful brands through getting a style guide will elevate your image and gain more of the confidence of your target market.

Where Do I Get a Style Guide?

If you are just starting out, you can get one created along with your logo design from a graphic designer. If your graphic designer don’t know what that is, you should look into contracting a different designer. While most designers can make things look good for you, “looking good” may be all that you get out of them if they don’t have the goal of contributing to your company image and promoting your core message through a consistent brand. I also strongly recommend against doing it yourself. It will be a headache and you will likely overlook including important brand details and will have to constantly go back and revise it.

What Should a Style Guide Contain?

It will have some pointers on what to do and what not to do with the company logo. It will outline all of the specific corporate colors. More detailed style guides will establish the norm on what to capitalize, the correct punctuation to use when there are multiple correct ways of doing so, which font sizes to use, when to use all caps,  etc.

Every Style Guide Should Have at Least:

  • Logo guidelines such as: minimum/maximum sizing/aspect ratio, where to place things relative to the logo, color variations (if any), elements that must always be included vs. elements that can be omitted for simplicity, etc.
  • Color specifications such as: HEX codes, RGB percentages, CMYK percentages, and at times, even a PANTONE color (Sound strange? Don’t worry, the designer will take care of all of this), as well as specified secondary brand colors.
  • Font info such as: which fonts to use in paragraphs, headings, subheadings, etc., which point sizes to use, which colors to use for type and which background colors are suitable, etc.
  • Type info such as: kerning, tracking, line spacing, special characters, ligatures, etc.

Other, More Extensive Guidelines Include:

  • Specific verbiage to be used in copy.
  • Icons to use as supporting elements.
  • Patterns to use, and the ways in which they should be used.
  • Materials that should be used in physical locations.
  • Examples of the style of photography that is to be used.
  • Anything else the designer and the business decide would be important to define.

The list can go on an on, but essentially the rule is this: the more thoughtful everything is, the stronger the brand.

So if you want to improve your company image: define, define, and define your brand some more! As time goes on, people will be more able to recognize your company for the great company that it is.

Want to begin defining your brand’s visual style? Reach out!