Styleguides aren’t just for the big boys
This one is for you if you spend hours fiddling around with new images, fonts, colours and concepts every time you need an ad / leaflet / post / website graphic or handout.
Yesterday I took the kids out for a daytrip. We’d planned it all week, had a little picnic ready and the weather (windy and cold) wasn’t going to stop us.
But as I was making the sandwiches a little voice bellowed from the top of the stairs, “MUM! I don’t know what to wear!!!” So I trudged up to my daughter’s bear pit (bedroom) to find something appropriate for the day of fun.
After rummaging around for a good 45 minutes I managed to gather together two nearly matching socks, one of the very few pairs of pants that she agrees to wear, persuaded her to wear the nearly new t-shirt that she’s always going to wear ‘tomorrow’ and taken in the too large around her little waist running trousers that we bought for tree climbing and rolling down hills.
I’m not sure it all matched but she was dressed.
The thing was that not only did we waste a great deal of the day rummaging around trying to match different items of clothing into one practical and coherent outfit for the day, but the end result was not exactly worthy of posting a pretty picture to impress friends on social media.
It didn’t matter for our fun tree climbing day, but it does matter for your business.
On school days we don’t have all the fuss as she has to wear the school uniform. And, once dressed, she looks neat as a pin and worthy of a photograph. We know exactly what she is going to wear and it saves us a lot of time choosing, arguing and matching.
A style guide can do the same for your business. It can be the uniform that prevents hours of procrastination and indecision on image websites. You’ll always know what colours are going to look wonderful together. You’ll always have the right fonts to make your message clear and very you. And you’ll have all the elements you need to produce new visual content fast and effectively.
It doesn’t have to be a set of long-winded and rigid rules that prevent you from being creative in your business. It’s just a really easy way of keeping you organised and saving you time.
So what should your style guide include?
Some styleguides can be very very long but, as a solopreneur, yours just needs to give you the basics to play with.
Here are my top 5 must haves for a really helpful style guide:
1. Your logo
Keep it simple. Your logo doesn’t have to say everything about you and your business. Show the different colours your logo can be used and have a version for dark and light backgrounds ready.
2. Your colours
Decide on your brand colours and stick to them. This will save you sooo much time when putting your visual content together and make your brand look far more powerful. Add the colours to your styleguide and don’t forget to include the hex code / RGB code so you can use it again quickly.
3. Your character font for big headings and titles
This is the pretty font that says a lot about you and your business. It needs to be readable (obviously) but it needs to be full of personality. Include the size it should be displayed at and the name of the font on your styleguid
4. Your subheading font for breaking up the text
This font needs to stand out and be legible. It will be used for call outs (bits of text you want to highlight) straplines and titles for sections of your main content. Include the size it should be displayed at and the name of the font on your styleguide
5. Your super easy to read body copy font for content
Keep this one plain and easy to scan. Include the size it should be displayed at, the spacing between the lines, and the name of the font on your styleguid
6. Your image style
Attach a few example images that really resonate with you and your business to your styleguide. Try and identify a pattern in the images you choose and write down a few words to describe the images that sum up your brand.