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Maintaining a consistent presence across channels, assets, and time is key to brand recognition and value. A brand style guide is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page, following the same guidelines. It provides guidance on everything from a company’s logo, colors, and typography, to technical details like clearspace, sizing, and imagery. It can even include voice and tone guidance for writers and content creators.
Traditionally, brands have created style guides in print format and distributed them to their network of creative resources. But in the digital-everything world, a printed style guide, even if it’s a PDF document, is behind the times almost as soon as it’s produced. Anytime a change is made, you have to update both the guide and the associated files, which are usually stored in a cloud repository such as Box. Anyone who doesn’t get the new guide or may have downloaded an earlier asset for reference will then be left using outdated information—and not knowing it.
In our hyper-connected world, brands are changing daily. That’s why we’ve found a better way to maintain your brand style.
Clients often come to WebEnertia wanting to update their brand and logo, which also means updating the style guide. We now recommend they use Frontify, an all-in-one brand management platform, to create a cloud-based style guide. It’s a great way to manage your brand, and do away with version control challenges—because anyone with access will always have the latest information. Plus, your guide can have direct links to assets, templates, and other visual components for the fastest, most up-to-date access available. That makes life a whole lot easier for everyone working with or for your brand.
Creating a style guide on Frontify is simple. The company offers a variety of templates to choose from, and the in-line editing and intuitive UI make adding your content easy. Each template includes over 30 smart blocks, giving you the flexibility to create your own structure. The smart blocks are also how editors and creators add or edit content, similar to the way WordPress works. You can select fonts and colors to bring the style guide in line with your brand, or download a kit to add your logo.
Frontify does a good job of auto-generating swatch files, so designers don’t have to keep going back into Illustrator to double or triple check them. This is a great workflow shortcut. It also gives you live code snippets, which are an excellent resource for web style guides or application design systems.
For complex brands, Frontify gives you the option to create multiple guidelines under a single company umbrella. You can either create sub-brands with separate buckets for all your guidelines, or create a separate guide for print and digital assets. As an added bonus, we’ve found that using Frontify to create your style guide is four to five times faster than doing it in print. So you can get something out there fast and then keep honing it until it’s perfect.
Once you’ve created your guide, you can easily share your work with everyone in your company or project to ensure consistency—just send them the URL, and they’ll always be looking at the latest version. This makes it much easier to onboard new creatives, too.
(Okay, maybe that’s another pro in disguise.) It’s true that you don’t end up with a professional, printed brand book to use as a showpiece. But you end up with something better: a single source for all your brand information that’s accessible from anywhere and always up-to-date.
A few other companies offer similar digital asset management capabilities (Brandfolder, Canto, Bynder) but their emphasis is more on file storage than brand management. So we stick with Frontify. Here are some examples of online style guides we’ve created for our clients using their platform.
Getting started is easy—just head to the website to check it out. While Frontify does offer a free version of their platform, it doesn’t include a custom domain with your company name. They offer several monthly license levels, with solutions to meet a wide range of needs. We recommend using the paid version. It’s more powerful and will serve your brand better, which is definitely worth the investment.