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Building Effective Brand Guidelines

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Brand style guide

Once you’ve got the basics of color, images, typography, and composition down, you might wonder where you can find templates and examples of each of those things to use for your own brand. Well, you can get all of these easily from a brand style guide.

A style guide is a document that provides guidelines for the way your brand looks in different media, like websites, social media, and so on. Every brand should have their own. Whether you’re adding an image to your website, to a social media post, or to anything visual at all, using a style guide means you don’t have to guess at colors, images or fonts – they’re all available with plenty of examples in your style guide.

The beauty of having a brand style guide is that it puts everyone on the same page, presenting a unified vision of your business, whether your designs are coming from marketing, customer service, sales, or web design.

Ensuring consistency

But what if you don’t have a style guide, for example if you’re an early-stage company? At some point, you’ll need to create one to ensure consistency across your brand. Until you have one, you can ensure consistency simply by making sure your design is consistent with your other main digital assets, like your website or product visuals.

Pretty much every major brand shares their style guide online so that everyone knows what to do and not to do when using their brand, so look there for inspiration.

What to take from your style guide

Let’s look at main things you’ll need to take from the style guide when you’re putting together a graphic. Those are:

  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Imagery
  • Logos

They should be easy to understand and reproduce, and it should be clear how and when to use them.

Color palettes

First, let’s look at the colors or the color palette. You will find a description of the colors and perhaps even why they represent the specific corporate brand. Aside from sample splashes of the various colors, you will also find RGB and HEX values, indicating the exact color codes, so that you can reproduce each within the editor you use.

The RGB code, or Red, Green, Blue values, are simply three numbers indicating how much of each primary color is used to make up the desired color. For example, a ‘salmon’ color might use the following RGB: 250, 128, 114.

You might also come across the HEX code for a particular color. This is a 6-digit hexadecimal number indicating the intensity of red, green, and blue in the color.


What about the typography or fonts you use? This part of your style guide will make sure you’re consistent, in order to look professional. You may find a number of different fonts and sizes listed, each for a different purpose. The style guide dictates which one goes where and will typically show the spacing between letters and paragraphs as well.


Now, let’s think about imagery. Obviously, when you’re putting together graphics, you’ll want to know which photos or images are right for your brand. The imagery section of the style guide should give lots of examples, so that you don’t need to get approval for every one you use.


Clearly, your logo is a very obvious part of your brand. Your style guide should ideally show how NOT to use your logo, so that you or others at your company can avoid misusing it.

To summarize, your style guide should contain all the info you need, including some great examples you can use with your own branding. So whether you’re adding an image to your blog post or newsletter, the style guide will make your life a lot easier.

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Philippe Polman

Philippe is a digital engagement specialist with extensive experience helping clients to create and manage deeper, more personal relationships with their target audiences. In previous roles, Philippe has designed and executed international communications programs focused on internal communications, UX, brand management, media engagement (traditional and digital), investor relations, and corporate positioning. More recently, he has founded his own aviation consultancy business, which combines both his passion and experience for the aerospace industry.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Understand the principles and best practices underpinning graphic design 
  • Appraise the design of consistent, brand-approved graphics that supports a business goal

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      Graphic Design Essentials for Marketers
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      In this short course, created by Digital Marketing Institute in partnership with HubSpot Academy, you'll learn about the fundamentals of graphic design: color theory, imagery, typography, and composition. You'll walk through each of these fundamental elements and their best practices, including tips on incorporating them into developing simple visuals for your business. You'll be able to apply the knowledge you learn in this lesson to graphic design projects, big and small. We include links and references to free resources to help you design graphics without a massive budget or a degree in graphic design.