Marketing
Published by: Flavius Trica
Last update: 3 April 2024 Published on: 3 April 2024

21 Brand Style Guide Examples I Love (for Visual Inspiration)

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Developing a consistent brand starts with creating a brand style guide. These branding rule books help graphic designers, marketers, web developers, community managers, and even product packaging departments present a unified vision of the brand to the public.

The best brands stick in our brains because their presence is defined by the repetition of the same logo, fonts, colors, and images. Once we see them enough, they become instantly recognizable. All of this is possible when each member of your team adheres to a cohesive brand style guide.

Free Download: How to Create a Style Guide [+ Free Templates]

So, what is a brand style guide? In this article, I’ll go over the elements of a style guide and share some amazing examples of them in action to help inspire your next branding project or website redesign.

Table of Contents

Picture the most recognizable brands you can think of.

Chances are, you’ve learned to recognize them due to one of the following reasons:

  • There’s a written or visual consistency across the messaging.
  • The same brand colors are reflected across every asset.
  • The language sounds familiar.
  • It‘s all very organized and, while not rigid, it’s cohesive.

But before you sit down to create your branding guidelines, I’d recommend taking a step back and define your brand’s mission statement and buyer personas.

These strategic elements will help you dive into the tactical components of your brand style guide later.

Brand Guidelines Mission Statement

To me, your mission statement is the compass of your brand style guide. It‘s an action-oriented statement declaring your organization’s purpose.

This statement ensures that all your content is working toward the same goal and connecting with your audience. It can also guide your blog and paid content, ad copy, visual media, and slogan.

Pro tip: You can either include your mission statement within your style guide, create a separate document for reference, or distill your mission statement into a slogan that you can place at the head of your document.

Brand Guidelines Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It includes details on your customer’s job title, age, gender, and professional challenges — therefore stipulating for whom your brand publishes content.

Your buyer persona guides your blog content, ad copy, and visual media, which can attract valuable leads and customers to your business.

Pro tip: Download our free resource below on how to create your own style guide with brand guidelines templates to follow. Creating a consistent style guide isn’t easy, but with these tools you can build an unforgettable one with ease.

The Elements of a Brand Style Guide

A brand style guide encompasses much more than just a logo (although that’s important, too). It visually encompasses everything your brand is about — down to your business’ purpose.

Here are some key elements that I believe make or break a brand style guide.

Your logo might seem like the simplest aspect of your branding guidelines, but in reality, I‘d argue it’s one of the most complex and most important parts.

In your guide, you should:

  • Include a visual of your logo.
  • Explain the design details of your logo.
  • Describe how your logo can be used by external and internal publishers.

You should also include wrong usages — i.e, you might advise against rotating the design or curving the font. That way, whether you or someone else is publishing information about your company, your logo looks consistent everywhere.

Pro tip: If your brand is well-known and many outlets publish information about you, you also might want to provide an entire document outlining acceptable use policies for your logo.

Color Palette

In my opinion, the color palette is probably one of the most distinctive and recognizable parts of a company’s branding guidelines.

It’s the group of colors your company uses to design its brand assets, guiding every piece of visual content created.

These color combinations often follow HEX or RGB color codes, and govern your logo, web design, printed ads, and event collateral.

Pro tip: A brand color palette should not only include your primary color, but also a wide variety of secondary, tertiary, and neutral colors. This will allow you to come up with more dynamic and varied designs in the content creation stage.

If you don’t define an array of options, you can run the risk of having your team create content with random secondary colors, which can look inconsistent.

Typography

Typography is a visual element of your brand style guide that goes beyond the font you use in your company logo. It supports your brand’s design down to the links and copy on your website — even your tagline.

I recommend specifying a primary and secondary font, with a mixture of serifs and font weights for different use cases.

Remember, the goal of your branding guidelines is to empower your people and external stakeholders to create consistent but varied collateral on behalf of your brand. You don’t want to limit them with a single font option.

For instance, HubSpot’s primary font is Lexend Deca (sans-serif), while our secondary font is Queens (serif). They’re both integrated in our very own Content Hub, and our design tool, Canva, where we can use them to create assets.

Pro tip: Don’t forget that typography also plays a major role in your website’s user experience. You want to make sure it is visually appealing while also being accessible and easy to read.

Imagery and Iconography

You may be able to only include your logo, colors, and fonts in your guidelines.

However, if you’d like to create a stronger style guide, consider including approved imagery, pre-designed icons, and custom symbols for your company to use across your website and print collateral.

If your budget is smaller, you can recommend photographic styles (i.e candid versus staged, etcetera), and then direct content creators to your preferred stock photo provider (i.e. Shutterstock, Unsplash).

Alternatively, you can commission a company photoshoot at a studio and make the resulting photography available for creative use.

Pro tip: Symbols and icons can also be a great addition to your branding guidelines. As with photos, you can always find free icons online and recommend what to use versus what not to use (e.g., outlines only vs. full color).

You can also commission custom icons from a freelance graphic designer.

Brand Voice

If your company visuals are the flesh and bones of your style guide, I’m going to say your brand voice is the beating heart.

The importance of your brand voice can’t be overstated.

Maybe you want your company’s personality to be friendly and casual, or you may prefer a more distant and formal voice.

Either way, you want to make it easy for marketers, salespeople, and content creators on your team to know how to represent your brand online. This will ensure consistent messaging across all channels.

You can also include a full editorial style guide. The job of an editorial style guide is to commit an editorial stylebook on how to phrase certain products, list topics the brand can and cannot write about, and other companies it can mention.

Your editorial style guide can guide your blog content, video scripts, website and landing page copy, PR talking points, and knowledge base articles.

As you can see, the purpose of the brand style guide is to form and maintain all of the various elements of a company that, when combined, spell out the entire brand as it’s recognized.

Ready to get started? HubSpot’s Brand Kit Generator can help you create all of these key branding and style guide elements with ease (and for free).

1. Medium

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Medium‘s simple brand style guide emphasizes usage of its logo, wordmark, and symbol. Medium’s logo is the brand’s primary graphic element and was created to feel “confident, premium, timeless, and modern.”

2. Walmart

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: The guide includes the brand‘s logo, photography, typography, illustrations, iconography, voice, editorial style, and more. Walmart’s color palette is so integral to its brand identity that its primary color is called “Walmart Blue.”

3. Asana

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Asana‘s simple style guide highlights its logo and color palette. It also explains how to properly use the brand’s assets.

4. Skype

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Everyone’s favorite video chat platform also has a squeaky-clean style guide for its brand. Skype, now owned by Microsoft, focuses primarily on its product phrasing and logo placement.

5. Barre & Soul

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Barre & Soul’s brand style guide includes variations of its logo, logo spacing, secondary logos, supporting imagery, and a five-color color palette.

6. Spotify

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Spotify‘s color palette includes three color codes, while the rest of the company’s branding guidelines focus on logo variation and album artwork. The style guide even allows you to download an icon version of its logo, making it easier to represent the company without manually recreating it.

7. Starbucks

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Starbucks’ interactive brand style guide includes details about how to use its core elements such as the iconic Siren logo and green color palette. Plus, the guide features a visual spectrum of how their creative assets can be used across different channels.

8. Paris 2024

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Paris 2024’s brand identity pays homage to the 1924 Olympic Games through Art Deco inspired design. Best of all, designers applied eco-branding methods to reduce the amount of ink and paper needed for physical materials as well as limit the power and data consumption on digital elements.

9. Urban Outfitters

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Photography, color, and even tone of voice appear in Urban Outfitters‘ California-inspired brand guidelines. Plus, the company isn’t shy to include information about its ideal consumer and what the brand believes in.

10. Love to Ride

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Love to Ride, a cycling company, is all about color variety in its visually pleasing style guide. The company’s brand guidelines include nine color codes and tons of detail about its secondary logos and imagery.

11. Barbican

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Barbican, an art and learning center in the United Kingdom, sports a loud yet simple style guide focusing heavily on its logo and supporting typefaces.

12. I Love New York

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Despite its famously simple t-shirts, I Love New York has a brand style guide. The company begins its guidelines with a thorough explanation of its mission, vision, story, target audience, and tone of voice. Only then does the style guide delve into its logo positioning on various merchandise.

13. TikTok

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: TikTok‘s style guide isn’t just a guide — it’s an interactive brand book. First, it provides an in-depth look into how it brings its brand to life through design. Then, it gives an overview of its logo, co-branding, color, and typography.

14. University of the Arts Helsinki

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: The style guide of the University of the Arts Helsinki is more of a creative branding album than a traditional marketing guide. It shows you dozens of contexts in which you‘d see this school’s provocative logo, including animations.

15. Ivy Lane Events

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Ivy Lane Events‘ bold style guide is reflective of the edgy events the company produces. In it, you’ll find a mood board with dark, romantic visuals inspired by “victorian gothic style and vintage book art.”

16. Western Athletic Conference

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: The Western Athletic Conference’s brand style guide includes extensive information about its history, mission, and vision. It also highlights its member universities and athletic championships and awards it is involved with.

17. Discord

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Discord‘s brand guide is as colorful and playful as the communities it serves. The brand’s motion elements are based on the dot, which represents the Discord user interacting with others in the communities it belongs to.

18. Netflix

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: As far as its public brand assets are concerned, Netflix is focused primarily on the treatment of its logo. The company offers a simple set of rules governing the size, spacing, and placement of its famous capitalized typeface.

19. Scrimshaw Coffee

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Featuring a six-code color palette, this “laid back,” “cool,” and “eclectic” brand has a number of secondary logos it embraces in various situations.

20. NASA

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: NASA‘s “Graphics Standards Manual” is as official and complex as you think it is. At 220 pages, the guide describes countless logo placements, color uses, and supporting designs. And yes, NASA’s space shuttles have their own branding rules.

21. New York City Transit Authority

See the full brand guide here.

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What I like: Like NASA, the NYCTA has its own Graphics Standards Manual, and it includes some fascinating typography rules for the numbers, arrows, and public transit symbols the average commuter takes for granted every day.

Branding Guidelines Tips

If you want to take your branding style guide to the next level, let HubSpot’s Brand Kit Generator do some of the heavy lifting for you.

I’d also recommend following the best practices below, which the HubSpot Creative team has used to disseminate branding information to the rest of the HubSpot Marketing team.

This has not only made my job as a blogger easier, but also makes our branding feel well thought-out and cohesive.

1. Make your guidelines a branded document.

Whether you’re publishing your branding guidelines online or creating an internal presentation, consider making the guidelines themselves a branded document.

Ensure the published document follows your established brand voice, uses the symbols and imagery you’ve created, and employs the colors and typography that makes your brand feel like you.

Insights from HubSpot’s Creative Team

When our Creative team rolled out a visual identity refresh for the HubSpot brand, we all received access to a branded playbook that summarized all the changes and described how we should represent HubSpot online moving forward.

Not only was I a huge fan of the refresh, but also of the way it was presented to our team in a branded document.

You can do the same, regardless of your budget. Our Creative team actually used a free tool, Google Slides — so it’s totally doable for a small or freelance brand!

2. Name your brand’s colors.

You’ve already chosen your color palette — why not go as far as naming the colors?

Giving your colors unique names (aside from “blue” or “orange”) can help you tie the tactical elements of your branding into an overall theme or ethos.

Not to mention that it’s awesome to be able to refer to company colors by a unique name. Imagine if we called Solaris, HubSpot’s primary brand color, “HubSpot Orange” — that simply doesn’t have the same ring.

Insights from HubSpot’s Creative Team

In our visual identity refresh, our Creative team brightened and intensified our color palette, then renamed the individual hues.

They wrote, “Every color, tint, and shade is based on central themes. […] Whether it’s a subway line in Paris, or a flower-lined street in Japan, the secondary color names are a veritable tour of important cultural and geographical touchstones from HubSpotters all over the world.”

Think about what makes your brand unique, and why you chose the colors that you did. For instance, if you work at a law firm that specializes in car accident cases, you might choose red as one of the brand colors and call it “Stop Light.”

3. Create easy-to-use branded templates.

Alongside your branding guidelines should be templates to empower your team to easily design branded assets, even if they’re not designers.

Insights from HubSpot’s Creative Team

At HubSpot, we keep all of our templates in our team’s Canva account. There, anyone (myself included) can edit pre-made designs for any number of use cases.

As a writer on the HubSpot blog, I have to create graphics to supplement the information I’m sharing.

The branded templates made by our Creative team have made my work a great deal easier, and I can imagine that it’s the same for our Social Media team.

Not everyone is a designer, but with templates, you can ensure your brand looks professional no matter who creates an asset.

4. Ensure your branding is optimized for all channels.

Your branding guidelines should include different specifications for different channels.

Or, alternatively, you should have assets and designs that can be adjusted for various channels and mediums. Not only for sizing purposes, but for accessibility purposes, too.

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For instance, if you primarily market your brand over Instagram and on your website, then your branding should have web accessible colors, as well as Instagram-friendly designs and sizes.

However, you don’t want to significantly change your branding from channel to channel. It should work relatively well no matter where you’re marketing your brand.

Build a Memorable Style Guide of Your Own

Once you build your unique brand style guide, customers will recognize your brand and associate it with all the visual cues you want them to.

I hope you were inspired by our list of amazing brand style guides and wish you luck in creating a timeless style of your own.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

brand style guide

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3 April 2024

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