Why you should create a style guide for your startup

By Alexander Almegaard

When starting a company a visual identity has to be developed. This identity is a very important parameter when it comes to what the potential customers think of the company. One of the most vital things is to have consistency across all of the products and channels, as it helps the customers to see the connection between everything and who the sender is.

To help achieve consistency a company can create a style guide.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a simple, thorough document (for example a PDF) containing guidelines for the visual styles, logos, fonts, colours, words or tag lines etc. of the company.

It is essential that the style guide is concrete and easy for everyone to understand.

Why a style guide?

Creating a style guide helps achieve the aforementioned consistency throughout the whole company. It also helps everyone in the company to reach a common understanding of how the brand, product or service should look or feel.

The guidelines of the style guide can also ensure that the logo of the company is being displayed in the right way when partners, press, etc use it.

How to create a style guide?

Being a startup, depending on your stage, you already have a lot of the things you need to create a neat style guide. You will probably have a logo, business cards, website etc., which are all part of your brand and therefore need to be consistent to send the right signals.

Designing the logo etc. you made a bunch of decisions about the visual styles. Now you have to gather those decisions in one single clear document. Gather people, sit down, discuss how you want it to be and nail it down!

As a part of the startup environment, changes happen fast. This means that you should of course be ready to adapt and keep your style guide updated when making changes to the visuals.

Specifications, tools, and examples

  • Specify the minimum size of the logo
  • Specify the required white space around the logo (x-space)
  • Specify the allowed background colour of the logo

The colours

  • Show the colour palette
  • Specify the RGB values for all colours
  • Specify the CMYK values for all colours

The Fonts

  • Show examples of the fonts (including the weight)
  • Specify the names of the fonts
  • Specify certain font sizes for certain purposes
  • Outline all fonts used in the style guide

Suggestions for tools*

  • Sketch (Lightweight easy-to-use vector-based graphics editor)
  • Adobe Illustrator (Heavy vector-based graphics editor)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy Pixel-based graphics editor)

*Different designers – different preferences

Examples of style guides

Here are a couple of well-documented examples:

The content and the amount of text vary a lot. For startups, the most important thing is to nail down the aforementioned specifications. It will develop over time. Now get back to work!

About the author
Alexander Almegaard

Alexander Almegaard

During his time at the IT University, Alexander helped start and run the student entrepreneurship organisation ITU-Innovators - since then he's been involved in organising several entrepreneurship events. He now spends his time as the Digital &... Read the rest

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