Our guide to live style guides

First thing's first; What is a brand style guide (aka brand Bible)?

Getting an agency to professionally design a company logo is often as far as many small businesses go with their brand. Actually, a brand is much more, it is your essence—an identity that complements your corporate values, objectives and ethos, and one that sets you apart from your competitors. A brand design has many components that express unison and oneness, such as a small business logo, email signatures, stationery, uniforms, business cards, websites, social media pages, leaflets, packaging, templates and more. How are all these aspects of a brand's style defined? Your style guide. It is the unique reference point that provides guidelines for the way your brand should be presented both visually and verbally (in words). 

As a brand design agency in Brisbane, we believe the sole purpose of a style guide is to ensure brand continuity is maintained across all touchpoints, so customers experience the same underlying traits of a brand regardless of how, when or where they experience it. 

Ultimately, a brand style guide is an indispensable blueprint which means that, regardless of who your brand is collaborating with to create material for your business, you’ll always remain on brand and on point. It achieves this through outlining everything from tone of voice and messaging down to even the seemingly minuscule details like how to capitalise titles, italicise names, fonts or how exactly your professional logo design should be depicted.
 

Style guides could use an upgrade

Classically, these highly valuable resources are created as a one-off by a brand design agency and are handed around (from generation to generation) in PDF format. As brands, and new media, grow and evolve (websites and social media were new once), their style guides too need to grow and evolve with them, so once created the brand design file will soon be out of date. 

Of course you can continually update your PDF. However, when you do finally get around to it, version control becomes a challenge and the bundle of files that go along with it become tangled into a big confusing mess (much like our kaginawas) on the receiving end. This will most likely leave your client scratching their head, wondering if they should follow the rules outlined in FinalStyleGuide.pdf or FinalForRealThisTimeStyleGuide.pdf or even TheUltimateFinalFinalStyleGuide.pdf. 

This really isn’t an ideal situation for anyone involved—and isn’t great for maintaining a consistent brand image. 

Don’t fret. We aren’t in the habit of sharing bad news without good news—there is a new way, a way to keep your brand style guide fresh, up to date and easy to navigate. 

 

A live style guide keeps your brand alive 

A live style guide does everything a classic style guide does but better. They are HTML-based, meaning they are built using top secret alien language (aka production code). But don’t be intimidated, because you don’t need developer-level skills to create one for yourself, in fact here at By Ninja (a branding and design agency in Brisbane) we used Brandpad to generate our own. 

So how are they better exactly? Live style guides fix the problems of the past. You can access them on the fly, and update them on the fly, and in contrast to their PDF counterpart, they are always up to date. By having just the one live document, there will never be computers crashing or heads left spinning due to version control issues. 

This live and easily updated resource provides a central reference point, meaning your people can view your brand style guide and download any necessary assets they need to implement on the spot, at any time of the day. 

Put simply; 

Live style guides never go out of style. 

 

Other benefits of live style guides

If we still haven’t won you over, here are just a few more benefits of going all Dr. Frankenstein on your guide;

  • Better visual quality - none of those important pixels will be lost in exporting and downloading the file. 

  • Improved user experience - some say “more is better” but having one resource that remains up to date will always be more efficient than having to scour through multiple versions. 

  • It’s future friendly - let’s be real, your business evolving over time is inevitable, having a live style guide will allow this resource to keep up with the growth of your brand. 

 

Need to see it to believe it? 

Lucky for you, we have some examples we prepared earlier. Take a look for yourself at the live brand style guides of Uber, Youtube and our (unbiased) personal favourite By Ninja (a brand design agency in Brisbane).


So whether you’re a small business needing logo design services, an established brand design agency in Brisbane (or anywhere really), or a global tech giant, live is better (with the exception of the 2015 Miss Universe crowning).