All good brands have a great style guide.
Creating a simple booklet that catalogues the specific colors, type, logos, imagery, patterns, taglines, etc. of a brand makes sure the brand machine runs smoothly.
To prove why you shouldn’t let your style guide go by the wayside, we’re going to take a look at 50 stunning and detailed examples of style guides that are sure to encourage you to begin compiling your own.
And when you’re ready to put that style guide to work, trial it the fun way, by designing a branded social media graphic in Canva.
Check out this brand manual for Foursquare that gives detailed rundowns for the rules and guides to each of the design elements a brand needs to be consistent. Be sure to give this manual a read via Issuu.
What better way for a designer to prove how detail-oriented they are than by compiling a detail-dense style guide for their own personal branding. Designer Amanda Michiru has done just this with a meticulous guide to her personal brand that ranges from logo construction to primary and secondary palettes and so much more. This guide is short but concise, just the bare necessities for a solid brand, a great example for beginners to style guide creation to have a look at. Have a read of the guide via Issuu.
03. Animal Planet
A brand manual is a really great chance for a brand’s design team to explain the specific choices made for a brand. Check out this style guide for the channel Animal Planet particularly the page on colour palettes. Here it explains how each colour has been carefully sampled from the animal kingdom and then goes on to explain what emotions each colour conjure. They also go into lots of detail about how their logo should and shouldn't be used, to eliminate potential mistakes. When creating your own style guide, keep in mind that for whoever reads and executes your rules, it’ll be easy for them to just blindly follow design rules, but it’ll be even easier to follow them when each rule is explained and given reason. Check out the guidelines over here.
We all know what a communication from Apple looks like, right? And why is this so clear to us? The answer is a well-maintained brand, thanks to a meticulous set of style guidelines. This guide for official Apple product retailers is just one example of how detail-oriented Apple is (in case you weren’t already aware). With concise and detailed explanations on how to use just about every Apple asset, there’s really no excuse for any retailer’s errors in upholding the Apple brand. Have a look at the Apple identity guidelines here.
It’s a good idea to tailor your style guide to your brand to ensure enough detail is given for the really important elements. Take this example by Argento Wine. Since the logo for Argento will be displayed on numerous pieces of packaging, this manual goes into extreme detail about sizing, signatures and logo colours to ensure there are no errors in application. Check out Argento’s style guide here.
06. Barnes & Noble
This style guide is not an official set of guidelines for Barnes & Noble, but this doesn’t mean it’s not beautifully compiled and worth a read. This fictional style guide is as meticulous as any real deal, it explains and deconstructs its’ primary logo, signatures and sub-brand logos in an informative and explanatory way. Topped off with a simple but beautiful design, this style guide provides an amazing template for a successful set of brand guidelines. Have a peruse of it via Issuu.
With competition against the likes of Google, it makes sense that search engine Bing would have to have a strong set of style guidelines in order to keep their brand strong. Bing deconstructs and explains nearly every fact of their brand, right down to the search bar dimensions and composition. Bing also explains just about every decision to provide a manual that would be easy to follow and rules that are easy to replicate. Read through Bing’s manual over here.
08. Black Watch Global
Style guides are informative tools, so most of the time the function is valued over the form, but this doesn’t mean that your guide has to look bland. Take a leaf from Black Watch Global’s book where informative brand rules meet punchy design. With big type that bleeds from page to page, stylistic typography and unique displays of colour, this is definitely one style guide that you won’t fall asleep while reading through. Check out more of the manual and design via Mash Creative.
If you’re not as keen on a more adventurous approach as the previous example, a more formulaic layout of a manual can work just as well. This manual by Mike Collinge for Bosphorus lays out each page similarly with a cohesive format that makes digesting the information easy and clear. As always, consider your brand and whether or not a more minimal approach would suit it/the guidelines better. Have a look at Bosphorus’ approach over here.
Don’t be afraid to get a little experimental with your style guide’s design. This guide for BPR has been executed as a poster. Why? Because it concerns BPR’s internal communications, so using the format makes in-office reference to the rules as easy as a glance over toward a poster. Do consider your own situation though, and what medium would be best for your brand/whoever will be reading your guidelines – a designer doesn’t want to open an A2 poster while at their studio desk just to find which size type to use. But for this instance, a poster is a useful medium. Have a closer look at the poster and well-organised rules via Red Stone.
11. Calgary Chamber
If you’re looking for detail, be sure to have a peruse of the style guide for Calgary Chamber. Each element of this style guide is explained, demonstrated and displayed in extraordinary detail, making for a clear and strong set of guidelines toward the brand. This manual groups colours by emotion (intelligent through to energetic), maps out gradients, colour combinations, type combinations, sizes, weights, just about anything any future designer would need. Have a look at the detail of this manual via Iancu Barbărasă.
12. Canadian Olympic Team
When it comes to an event like the Olympics, you want your country to stand out, and what better way to do this than with a meticulously designed and upheld brand. The Canadian Olympic team have a specific branding that is captured and outlined in this detailed and explanatory style guide. An interesting thing to take from this example is the use of translations on each page. Since the dominant languages in Canada are French and English, both languages have been represented in this manual, a clever way to tailor this manual to the audience. Check it all out via Ben Hulse.
Sometimes less really is best. Check out this simple style guide for concrete distributors Cemento. A minimal palette that coincides with the brand, and big, bold headlines that make flipping through the manual quick and easy. There has been a careful attention to the trademark Cemento pattern and its construction in this manual as this pattern is a large part of the brand. Again, be sure to tailor your style guide toward whichever elements are the most important to your brand. Have a read of the Cemento guide via BP&O.
14. Channel 4
Have you got a simple brand? Well, even the simplest of brands needs a comprehensive style guide, just as we can see with the guidelines for Channel 4. While Channel 4’s overall design is fairly simple, this does not mean that the instructions and brand rules are any less detailed. With some pretty specific instructions on placement, type size, logo application and much more, this simple brand is given just as much attention as any complex brand gets. Have a peruse through the manual via Issuu.
15. Child of Light
If you thought style guides were purely limited to corporate or retail brands, boy, were you wrong. This manual was created for the video game Child of Light and is as meticulously detailed and compiled as any corporate brand. This guide explains each decision in detail and deconstructs the logo in an understandable way, shedding some light on the process for anyone involved in the game’s creative direction. Remember: wherever there’s a brand there should be a brand manual. Have a look at the guidelines and development via Behance.
The last thing you want with your manual is for your explanations to be skimmed over or even worse – completely unread. This manual by Cisco avoids this by putting their reasonings and explanations in big, colourful type that invites the reader to consume the whole thing. Complemented with densely-packed but nicely laid out information, this manual is easy to digest and consume thanks to a simple but clever layout. Have a flip through the pages via Issuu.
17. Don’t Use Me
While a majority of brand marks concerns what to do with a brand, just as important is some outlines for what not to do. This manual for charity group Don’t Use Me outlines both the do’s and don’ts when it comes to their brand with some diagrams and examples that make it all pretty easy to understand at a glance. Don’t be afraid to throw in as many visuals as you can, visual examples help avoid any miscommunications, after all. Check out Don’t Use Me’s brand manual here.
18. Double Knot
While you may benefit from a simpler design that puts the information in the forefront, don’t be afraid to experiment with using your own rules in your style guide. Check out this manual for Double Knot that uses the established colour scheme and typesetting rules right throughout the manual, making the manual itself a whole example of the brand rules. Have a read of it all via Stylo.
When it comes to creating a manual that covers a big brand, it can be tricky to include all aspects of it, not forgetting about all the sub-brands too. For a good example on how to cover all bases, check out this manual by the easyGroup. easyGroup covers a big handful of groups such as easyJet, easyMoney, easyAirtours etc. and each of these subgroups has been discussed and explained in this simple but detailed brand manual. Of course, the bigger the brand, the bigger the manual, so don’t leave out any important elements to keep the manual short. Check out the entire easyGroup manual over here.
If you’re looking for a sophisticated brand manual design that combines form and function, look no further than the Firebrand logo. A clean, clear and sophisticated design that covers all branding bases, the Firebrand style guide has a design that complements the sleek design of the brand and is easy and pleasant to flip through. For more inspiration on blending stylish design and informative content, check out the Firebrand manual.
21. Fitt Lab
Just as we can see in this sophisticated style guide from Fitt Lab, it’s always a good idea to break down your design elements and deconstruct them for the reader of your manual. This can give readers an idea for how the logotype should look, how to spot irregularities, how to regulate logotype kerning etc. Remember: the more thoroughly you cover your bases, the stronger your final manual will be and the less chance that there will be any mistakes or inconsistencies in your final brand. Check out the Fitt Lab guidelines for some deconstruction inspiration.
Chances are that your brand is going to be applied on more than one medium, so think ahead, think of any possible or guaranteed branding applications and include them in your manual. This manual for Fogg has done just this, with application examples ranging from letterheads through to smartphone app icons. Your brand won’t be able to grow if your design doesn’t anticipate growth! Get inspired to include an array of applications with Fogg’s brand manual.
Ever heard the term ‘pixel perfect’? Well, it’s a phrase Google not only use to describe their icons but one that they execute. Google is of course a huge brand, so their visual asset manual alone is detailed and meticulous, covering all bases, right down to the way individual pixels should be used when creating icons. Don’t be afraid to hold your brand to a high standard (as long as you have good reason). Have a peruse of Google’s guidelines here.
Don’t be afraid to use some imagery in your manual, as long as it complements and enhances your brand and information. A good example is Hanes’ colour palette page from their own brand manual. By including an image next to the swatches from the primary colour palette, Hanes’ palette is given meaning and a nicely visualised example. Have a look at Hanes’ use of fitting and complementary imagery in their manual.
Who said style guides have to be entirely black and white? If your brand has a distinct colour, don’t be afraid to flaunt it around your manual just as has been done with Heineken’s style guide. Heineken has a detailed and well arranged set of guidelines, all bound within a gradient of the Heineken green, keeping that brand identity strong. Check it out here.
On the topic of colour, check out the flamboyant layout for iO’s brand guidelines. Since the iO style guide breaks down the construction of these sharp gradients, it makes sense that they’d exemplify how to use them throughout the style guide itself. These gradients have been used predominantly on the divider pages, making the manual as a whole much easier (and more attractive) to navigate. Have a read over here.
27. Jamie Oliver
Does a large part of your brand deal with photographic elements? Well, a style guide is your chance to lay down the law and explain exactly how you want the photography to be treated. This manual for the Jamie Oliver homeware and food brand runs through the basics of branding, the do’s and don’ts of logos, but it also delves deep into the use of imagery, right from the specific images to use, down to the correct way to colour and use them in communication. Check out the meticulous rules set in this guideline via Issuu.
Does your brand require a set uniform for its workers? If so, a style guide is your place to explain the ins and outs of each item. If you need some inspiration for this, be sure to have a look through Luvata’s manual, which runs down everything from uniforms, and even through to equipment and vehicle branding. This style guide takes care to specify the colour, branding and style of each piece of uniform for each individual sector of Luvata. Talk about attention to detail. Have a browse through the project via Behance.
If you’re a newbie to style guides, you might be asking why is it so important to show the construction of the logo? Especially when many brands note to never try to replicate the logo. Think of it similarly to the way packaged foods have ingredients listed on them – not so that you can recreate these foods yourself, but to allow consumers to be aware of the contents. In a similar way, a detailed deconstruction of the logo just as Macride has done here allows designers to spot any irregularities in logos, so if a designer suspects a logo is the wrong colour value, compiled wrong, has the wrong typeface etc. they can refer to the construction to double check. So, a detailed rundown of the colours, gradients and typesetting of your logos can save you from inconsistencies in branding in the long run. For a good example of logo deconstruction, check out Macride’s style guide.
A majority of people learn and understand concepts better when given direct visual examples, so why not capitalise on that opportunity within your style guide just as has been done in the Medium style guide. Medium includes specific explanations and diverse examples to really bring home the brand guidelines. Have a read through their typographical explanations where they exemplify how to set headings, body copy and pull quotes with easy to navigate examples. Just keep in mind: there’s no such thing as a concept explained too thoroughly. Check out Medium’s brand manual here.
31. City of Melbourne
There’s a brand for just about everything in today’s world, and just as was mentioned before, wherever there’s a brand, there should be a brand manual. The City of Melbourne has a distinct and flexible branding, where the ‘M’ brand mark is given new patterns and colours to suit various applications. But, this flexibility doesn’t mean that The City of Melbourne is able to skimp on their do’s and don’ts list, in fact this means they need to be more precise in their rules to avoid this flexibility turning into liability. The City of Melbourne brand manual specifies colours that are safe and not safe to use, effects that are okay and not okay etc. In fact, this style guide is so meticulous that it specifies how to name digital files. When in doubt, add some detail. Have a read of this manual via Issuu.
32. Miami Football Club
This manual is another fictional example created as a personal project by designer Diego Guevara for the Miami Football Club. Again, this example is as well-created and detailed as any ‘official’ manual design. Guevara has gone into extreme detail for every facet, from the logo construction, meaning and inspiration, through to the uniform branding and applications. All topped off in a beautifully designed style guide, this is an impressive example (especially when you read that Guevara completed it in one week). Have a read through over here.
33. Nike Pro Services
If you’ve ever had a doubt about how meticulous Nike’s branding team are, have a look at this brand manual for just one division of the Nike group. Nike Pro Services is an elite invitation-only service offered by Nike that offers runners access to expert opinions and services usually reserved for professional athletes. Designed by Manual Creative, this manual is one that manages to walk that fine line between beautifully designed and densely packed with information. Check it out here.
34. Offroad Films
This style guide for Offroad Films puts the content in the forefront with big graphics and minimal type. Check out the huge block of colour to signify Offroad Films’ signature colour, and the large graphics that are left to speak for themselves. This brand manual keeps things simple and minimal with scale playing a large factor in communicating each item’s importance. Browse through this manual via Ink Inc.
Something to keep in mind when putting together your style guide is keeping a balance between visual content and informative content. A good example that does this successfully is Ollo’s style guide. Each page that is packed with information is complemented with another page of visual examples. Not only does this keep the manual from being overwhelming, it helps integrate the examples in a more easily digestible way. Check out the Ollo brand manual at Bibliothèque Designs.
Have you had a custom typeface created for your brand? Or are you using a typeface in a specific way? If you are, it’s a good idea to provide some guidelines as to how somebody should ideally use it. Phone company Optus rebranded themselves in the previous few years, moving from a corporate aesthetic to one that is “brutally non-corporate”, and with that came a two custom typefaces. Since these typefaces are more organic and handcrafted, each letter has 3 alternatives to avoid repeating letterforms and make written communications appear hand written. This typeface is given specific instructions and examples for use throughout the manual to ensure proper and consistent use. If there are any specific settings or techniques to any of your brand elements, be sure to specify them in as much detail as necessary. Have a read of the Optus manual via Behance.
37. Irish Red Cross
Sometimes bigger is better when it comes to style guide information. Be sure to check out this style guide for the Irish Red Cross, where each element is given a large scale, and yet the overall layout remains minimal and simple with plenty of room to breathe – both these factors drawing attention to the focus of each page. The Red Cross covers all branding bases in this simply designed style guide, that is definitely one to look at for inspiration on both style guide compilation as well as style guide design. Get inspired with this manual via Creative Inc.
38. Royal Mail
This style guide is a simple two page set of guidelines completed as a ‘rethink’ of the Royal Mail guidelines. While it’s not an official guide, the two pages manage to communicate the tone, aesthetic, and overall brand of this version of Royal Mail. For those of you keen on producing a brand manual, but aren’t keen on delving deep into detail, this is a great starting point, with all the basic elements of a brand – logotype, brand mark, signatures, colour, typography and vehicle livery – captured in just two pages. Have a closer look at the Royal Mail ‘rethik’ via Identity Designed.
We’ve discussed how your manual’s layout and design should somewhat reflect your brand, but what about the text? Chances are your style guide has quite a bit of type within it for instructions and explanations, so a good way to strengthen your brand’s tone of voice is through these instructions. Skype’s brand manual does just this, interjecting a little humour, and a colloquial and friendly tone into the explanations through instructions that are worded like “Never abuse our logo, it doesn’t have arms so it can’t fight back (our lawyers however, are another story).” Figure out your brand’s tone and consider introducing this to the manual in a unique way that doesn’t compromise the information but enhances it. Have a readthrough and a laugh with the Skype brand guidelines via Issuu.
For another example of just how meticulous certain brands are, here’s an entire style guide dedicated to Sony’s tagline “like.no.other”. This manual runs down clearance space, positioning, sizing, background and type colour combinations, dimensions, it goes into unbelievable detail about each facet of the tagline, putting great importance on its construction and display. Check out this manual if you want to see just how in-depth the big brands like Sony get with their branding. You can find it over on Issuu.
Sometimes it’s best to just say it large and loud. This style guide by Stihl puts the main instructions for each page in simple terms and huge type, making each direction impossible to ignore. By using simple colloquial language like “Use this colour with this colour”, nothing is lost in translation and any reader would get the general idea of how to maintain the brand by just flipping through the pages. By using real and easy to follow visual examples, this guide is one that makes brand consistency easy. Check it out via Behance.
42. Sushi & Co.
This is another set of brand guidelines that keep things ultra simple and extremely minimal while still communicating the foundations of the brand. If you’re looking for another example of a brand starter kit, you can’t go wrong with this one. With the logo, colours, type and iconography/patterning specified, the main brand is established. While such a simple set of guidelines may not work for every company (as many require detail), in this case, the minimal elements leave a little flexibility in the branding and applications. To check out these application examples and the project in more detail head over to Behance.
43. Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Armed Forces has a detailed brand guidelines that includes a section explaining the concept and thought behind the main logo and the sub-brand logos. This manual also delves deeply into imagery – both the way it should be shot, and the colours, but also the subject matter that should be depicted as a part of the brand values – for example on the “don’t” list is “images that romanticize war”. Have a read through and a look at the detailed instructions over at Issuu.
This is another brand manual that puts content in the forefront, with simple and comprehensive visuals and complementary explanations and descriptions, this is another simply designed but cohesive and detailed brand manual. Be sure to check out the pages on vehicle livery that ensure every angle of the vehicle is represented and exemplified with attention to detail. Check the whole thing out at Visual Bits.
Are you designing for a more corporate-oriented brand? If so, have you considered specifying how some of the visual assets should look? From graphs and diagrams to charts and tables, if you will be presenting it to consumers or business partners, perhaps consider tieing it somehow into your style guide to keep it all cohesive, professional and branded. Check out this manual for Truth that specifies just this. Using the signature pink and sleek graphics, this manual has exemplified how each type of visual asset should look and work, which is guaranteed to make that process a lot easier for the brand in the long run. Have a closer look over at Mash Creative.
There are a lot of arguments about whether or not printed brand manuals are a dying art. While the argument is strong on either side, some brands have opted for digital and publically accessible versions. One example is Twitter who have made their style guide accessible to everybody. A smart move on Twitter’s part, as their brand is applied just about everywhere over the internet, and while it’s not always applied in the right way, by providing the brand rules, they have a higher chance of having it presented right. Visit Twitter’s branding website page right here.
47. Università della Svizzera Italiana
Università della Svizzera Italiana has an intricate brand mark that is built on specific degrees of rotation and alignment, all of which are specified in this brand manual. Using a grid to explain the alignment of elements, each element of this brand is highlighted and given reason. This manual is also given a comprehensive introduction that outlines the fundamentals and values of the brand which keeps the brand focused. Check it out via the official Moving Brands site.
Yet another imagined brand manual for a brand ‘rethink’, this time, it’s for the airline Varig. This manual presents the rethought brand in a simple and concise way, specifying brand applications, uniforms, communications, logos, signatures, patterns, the whole nine yards. An airline has a lot of communications and branding opportunities within it, and this imagined example covers many of those bases with a beautifully designed and incredibly well thought out style guide. Have a read of it in whole via Abduzeedo.
Looking for a piece of style guide inspiration that walks the line between fun and trustworthy? Well, check out Walmart’s style guide. Walmart’s manual is colourful and dynamic while still maintaining their trustworthy and professional retailer vibe. This manual covers all the bases of Walmart’s brand and looks good while doing it – yet another example of a brand manual that practises what it preaches by using their signature colours and type within the manual itself. Download the guide to flip through at your leisure over here.
50. Yogen Früz
Let your information breathe. When it comes to creating your brand manual, ensure that you include plenty of examples, but not to the point where the manual becomes overcrowded. Why? In short, overcrowded pages don’t get read. Check out this manual for Yogen Früz that spaces out the examples and information over various spreads to make for a design layout that puts the focus on the content. Read the manual in full over here.
Make design in your workplace easier.
If your startup is going to grow as big as you imagine, there’s no doubt you’re going to need a style guide. When the number of people working on your design projects grows, a comprehensive style guide will ensure you don’t dilute your brand image and create maximum impact with all your visual assets.
If you like the idea of design in the workplace being amazingly simple, make sure you bookmark this post.