Why every company should have a housestyle guide

 A corporate identity guide is indispensable for every company. A house style guide contains the company’s core values, the tone of voice of the texts and the visual guidelines for colors, fonts and photography, for example. In this article you will read more about the advantages of such a guide and which themes it should contain. 

Why a house style guide?

A house style guide is also called a house style manual, style guide or visual identity. It all comes down to the same thing: it’s a document that sets out the rules surrounding your house style. A house style guide ensures a uniform and recognizable style that is unique to the company. By consistently implementing this style in all your communications you increase the recognizability of your company.

A house style guide is a useful tool for graphic designers, marketers or other external parties who work with your house style and marketing materials. Companies that work with freelancers in particular benefit from a corporate identity manual. Once several people are working on the look and identity of the company, the rules must be followed properly to ensure uniformity. There are no rules regarding the number of pages of the house style manual or what it should contain; you can decide that yourself. In general, however, you will often see the same themes recurring. These themes are described in the following paragraphs.

Style elements

In addition to colors, logos and fonts, a corporate identity also contains certain style elements. These are shapes that are derived from the logo or a shape that is so recognizable for the brand that it is used as a style element in the house style at some point. An example is the ‘swoosh’ in the Ockto corporate identity that was created during the design process. This dynamic graphic form is central to all of Ockto’s communications, such as in flyers, business cards, Powerpoint templates, Word templates and banners.

The logo

The company logo is one of the most important things to include in a corporate identity guide. The logo is the basis of your corporate identity: it is an image or word element that expresses the mission and vision of the company and what people most easily recognize and remember. In the house style guide you can describe the idea behind the logo. You can also record how you use the logo and for what purposes. For example, you can use a white logo on dark backgrounds and a colored or black logo on white backgrounds. For social media you might use only the logo instead of the entire logo and in your browser bar you might use a favicon (mini-image) that differs slightly from the actual logo.

The color palette

The use of color and the consistent use of colors is extremely important for the recognition of your company. In order to always maintain the same look it is advisable to work with a fixed color palette. A color consists of a unique hex value (#FFFFFF is white for example) and has different values for digital use (RGB) and print use (CMYK). If you are going to work with physical products, such as flags, you will also need pantone colors. In addition to the primary colors, you also lay down the secondary colors, spot colors and gray values in your corporate identity guide. It is important to describe the functions of the colors so it does not become a circus of colors. For example, you must state which color is used for buttons and which color is used for texts on flyers.

Typography

In addition to defining a color palette, it is also advisable to do this for your fonts. You have fonts that you use for titles and fonts that you use for bread texts (or body texts). In the house style manual you make agreements about the size of the font, the thickness and whether you underline certain words (for example in the case of text links) or write in italics (to emphasize words). If you use Google Fonts, it is advisable to add the URL where you can download the font. In the case of Google Fonts it is useful to choose a different font that you can fall back on if the Google Font is not available (because the browser does not pick it up or it is out of date).

 Photography, icons and illustrations

It is customary to use a certain style of photography, iconography or illustrations in your house style. These styles are defined in the house style guide. For photography you can think of basic guidelines which the photos must meet; do you work with real photos or stock images? Is there a fixed environment (city, nature)? What is the crop of the photos? With iconography you can think of applying, for example, Font Awesome icons or Material design icons. An example is the illustrations ASN Bank uses in its online and offline communications.

Style elements

In addition to colors, logos and fonts, a corporate identity also contains certain style elements. These are shapes that are derived from the logo or a shape that is so recognizable for the brand that it is used as a style element in the house style at some point. An example is the ‘swoosh’ in the Ockto corporate identity that was created during the design process. This dynamic graphic form is central to all of Ockto’s communications, such as in flyers, business cards, Powerpoint templates, Word templates and banners.

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