What is a style guide and why you need one for your tourism business
In episode 81 we are chatting with Haydn Boschetti, Design Director at Swish Designs and we talk about brand, branding and why your tourism business should have a style guide.
You can connect with Haynd here.
What is a style guide?
“A style guide is a tool that gives you the rules and guidelines for using and applying your brand identity. It helps to build and maintain a consistent brand.” – Haydn Boschetti
Haydn Boschetti: It helps to build and also maintain a consistent brand. That’s what a style guide should be for. You can have many pages, you can have a six to eight page style guide, PDF style guide or you can have up to 140 page, depending on how big your organisation is and how many rules and guidelines you need to include, and how many samples of your brand identity applications you’re going to have in that style guide.
HollyG: Why is brand consistency so important or why is consistency so important?
Haydn Boschetti: Basically in simplistic terms it’s telling your clients and your peers that you’re organised, that you are one unified company, not one that’s all broken up and a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to look at. It just says you’re organised and you’ve bothered to actually look after your visual material, your visual branding, and represent it to people in the best way possible.
HollyG: It’s that level of professionalism, isn’t it. I often think there’s a trust factor when you see that consistency across lots of different touch points. It sort of makes you think that the organisation is professional and trustworthy.
Haydn Boschetti: Yes, for sure because it says they’ve gone to the effort of offering their clients a unified visual front so to speak, so it’s easy for them to digest the information as well.
HollyG: Other than say a logo, what are the sort of things that are in a style guide?
Key elements of a style guide
The main elements we have is usually as we mentioned before, the logo and usually when you put a logo into a guide you do a with and without a tagline. A lot of our clients have got taglines and slogans that work with the logo or around it, so include those as well. We often have an explanation of what the brand is, for people to see as well. Just an explanation of what the brand is and what the guide is, just a simple one page explanation at the start of the guide, explaining what it is to clients, so when they get it, they understand. Or suppliers when they get it, they understand the importance of the brand and the importance of the guide to help manage this brand. Then we have minimum sizes of the logo is really important. So a lot of it’s about the logo at the start. So it’s more for readability and respecting the logo’s readability at certain sizes and don’t go below those sizes.
Then we look at primary colours for the logo and also what the logo looks like in greyscale, reversed out and what those rules are. Really important with the style guide, more so than most of the other elements, this is the one that most people need to know, that you’re sending your logo to, or your style guide to is the dos and dont’s for the logo. What do I do with this? What can I do with this? What can’t I do with this logo internally and externally? That’s really important. You know things like don’t change proportions or relationships to the logo. Please don’t stretch or condense the logo. I see a lot of that.
The guide can definitely help you to manage that. They’ve got no excuses if they’ve seen the guide, whoever’s doing that. Then primary and secondary colours, primary colours are your logo colour and the secondary colours are again that supporting element we talked about before the supporting layer, just other colours that compliment your primary colours. Then you’d look into the corporate typeface as well because you have to present a unified typeface that’s organised as well. So it’s not just the logo, it’s the type that you use in your messaging and marketing material with the logo and the rules for that in the guide as well. What the typeface is, and what a secondary typeface is. If I don’t have that primary typeface, what’s my go-to for a secondary. So we usually cover that in there as well. Then after that you can go on, it depends how extensive you need to go into your guide, but that’s the core items I’ve just outlined.
You can basically do all your key applications of the brand identity material to actual material, like to stationery, to corporate folders or to annual reports after that in the guide and outline what the rules are on placement of logos, and text, and imagery. It can be quite extensive but I’ve just explained basically the core elements of style guides that we do.
HollyG: I think for my brand Tourism Upgrade, which consists of just me, you know just one person. But I still have that style guide, which has the logo, how it can be used, my two colours, and what they are and the little numbers that go with the colours so I can always use them. Then secondary colours, then the fonts. I think pretty much that’s about as far as mine goes but I know as you say with some of my clients they’ve got say what the business card looks like, what the letterhead is, the email signature, all that sort of stuff and you sort of just send the style guide out to anyone that’s doing anything with your brand to make sure you’re getting that consistent look.
Haydn Boschetti: For sure and consistency is a huge word, it’s one I use most often in branding, brand identity, and brand management. It’s all about that and the style guide is essentially a brand management tool that creates, and helps create consistency for your brand.
HollyG: When we’re talking about brand. I love how you talk about that brand management. When we’re talking about brand often we just think of a logo but brand is a lot more than that isn’t it?
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah it is. I mean it’s important. I usually go through with our clients first, the difference between what brand is and what branding is because there is a difference there. There’s a lot of different schools of thought on it but essentially you know your brand is the more intangible form of how your business, services, products, and culture are perceived. It’s something that is intangible but very important. It’s who you are, what you do, why you do it, etc. The actual branding is separate because it’s the more tangible, the more visual form and that’s what I deal with a lot, is the brand narrative. That represents the brand on all your marketing, product, and sales material and offers a visual window to the brand so to speak.
Brand verses Branding
“Your brand is the more intangible form of how your business, services, products, and culture are perceived. It’s something that is intangible but very important.”
“The actual branding is separate because it’s the more tangible, the more visual form and that’s what I deal with a lot, is the brand narrative. That represents the brand on all your marketing, product, and sales material and offers a visual window to the brand so to speak.”
HollyG: What are some of the things that you come across or have come across in your 20 years experience in this industry, from clients that can be quite frustrating that keep coming up again, and again when you’re talking about, or when you’re working on different design projects?
Haydn Boschetti: Often we’ll go to the effort of doing a great brand revitalization or at least getting a new logo rebrand out there for a client and start creating the brand identity elements, you know like the secondary branding and corporate typeface and secondary colours, and so forth. Then often I’ll see when we’ve rolled this out, we then roll these items out for a range of marketing material that’s relevant to the client. Often I’ll see six months down the track the email signatures that we’ve created for our clients they’ve been changed or botched often with just not using them properly, or even not using them at all. I find that’s a common one.
HollyG: So you’ve gone to the effort to do it and it’s about, as you say that word, consistency must come up a lot?
Haydn Boschetti: Yes.
HollyG: It’s about rolling that out.
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah we’ll your email signature now it’s become more important than ever because it’s basically you first port of call for a lot of people when they see or hear from on an email, is visually who you are, who do you belong to. That’s your email footer. It’s your email signature. That often has your logo on there and if that’s not presented consistently, say I’ve given you a business card two weeks ago and then I’ve sent you an email after that and you’ve got my business card, when you look at the business card and you have a look at my email and they look the same. They look like they belong together. That’s perception, that’s straightaway it’s seen as, I’ve got a consistent approach. Then that word professionality comes back up again.
HollyG: Would you say that regardless of size of a business, so I just think in the tourism industry there’s a lot of businesses that are sort of mum and dad style operators. Is this still relevant for them?
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah, it’s relevant for any business. I like to say, if I had to use an analogy, it the suit you wearing around. It’s how essentially you look. If I walk into a room and I’ve got a beautiful looking suit on and then I start addressing you in a professional manner, you tend to think that I’m professional. If I walk into a room and I’m not addressing you properly and I’m dressed in my thongs and boardies, totally different. So your branding is basically the suit your company wears to its mates.
HollyG: What I often see as well is, when businesses just start, you know they might develop some of the elements. But as the business evolves, new elements are coming in and the business is maybe going in a slightly different direction to what they though, just little things creep in. Maybe different colours, or fonts, or styles and before you know it you’ve got a little bit of a mish-mash of things. I guess although you can do this sort of style guide or brand development at the start of a business. Even if you haven’t done that, you can jump in and do it anytime.
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah, you’re gonna have a brand identity of sorts, most companies will have a logo, they’ll have a visual identity of some sort. They’ll have fonts they’re using. They’ll have some things in place whether they know it or not, that they are using. It’s really getting the best of the things that are in place, the elements that are in place and getting them together in a style guide form to help manage moving forward the consistency of the brand and help other people who are using, maybe the logo you are sending out to a sign maker or off to a designer. It helps them to create and respect the logo in the form that you want it to, that you’ve outlined in that guide. It doesn’t matter how big your business is, if you’re a business you’ve got to have a brand identity of sorts. You can go without it. So you’ve got to have a visual aspect of it and if that’s not looking consistent then it is going to affect your business.
HollyG: That’s it, the style guide is talking to a broad range of people.
Haydn Boschetti: It is, everyone from a CEO or a CFO of another company, or an MD, to a signage supplier and designer.
HollyG: It could be you’re sponsoring the local event or something like that and you want them to display your logo correctly.
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah that’s it and they will want to advertise with you or put you on as their sponsor or thank you for the effort of being a sponsor but then they go and put your logo in the wrong colour and the wrong place, with not much clearance space. That basically sort of ruins that moment.
HollyG: Yeah exactly. So is there any other points you want to make about the importance of having a style guide?
Haydn Boschetti: I often see a lot of effort and I’ve been involved in teams putting brand identities together for companies of all shapes and sizes and there’s so much effort put into, even if we don’t do it, I understand the effort that’s put into it by the designers behind it or the company behind it. That all falls down if it’s not managed well and it’s up to everybody to try and help manage that brand but if they’ve got a tool like a style guide as one of the brand management tools that they can go to, every time, and add to as a company evolves. It’s an essential item. It’s an essential brand management tool but you know your brand falls down if it does become inconsistent and one of the first ways it becomes inconsistent is when people don’t know how to use it. How to use elements from the brand in a consistent manner, together. The clients realise the importance of it once they actually have it and are using it.
Bonus question: if you only had a $1000 marketing budget what would you spend it on?
Haydn Boschetti: that to me depends on how far evolved my business is and what stage I’m at but say that I’ve already got a logo, and I’ve already got a website presence. I would say if I’ve got those key things in place. Probably for me it’d either be as we’ve been talking about a simple style guide to help manage the brand that I’ve created or in case of a website maybe an SEO or digital marketing plan, even a simple one. To help my website work a bit harder for me.
HollyG:Yeah good point. Very good point. I think sometimes with websites we set them up and forget about them. Which is a big danger, I think. It’s an ongoing tool.
Haydn Boschetti: Yeah website’s just don’t work by themselves anymore, they’re is more of an ecosystem that needs to come together for a website to work properly. It’s a platform.
HollyG: Well really good to chat with you Haydn. I think that’s been very useful for our listeners and I really appreciate your time.
Tweet me with any comments or feedback @hollygalbraith or email is good too holly (at) hollyg.com.au
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