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What is a Digital Style Guide? Why You Need One

A digital style guide will help avoid guesswork and ensure that the right choices are made.

Back in the day, when brands were primarily represented in print world, the concept of and need for a style guide was widely understood — a single reference that specified standards for logo usage, brand colors, font preferences, and in some cases, requirements for trademarks, taglines, or any particular distinctions for ensuring brand consistency.

Guidelines for print are still needed, but brands live online now. The digital business climate calls for a new approach. Too often, style guides have not caught up to current realities and on-the-fly efforts to translate print guidelines to digital formats, resulting in a lot of guesswork and sub-par results.

Digital Distinctions

What’s needed now is a digital style guide that serves as a single source of truth and sets forth a branding system for all digital media — your website, your apps, social platforms, and your entire online presence.

A centrally located digital style guide that provides quick access to downloadable images and defines the current branding system within a framework of web fonts, HEX colors palettes, icons, taglines, logo treatments, and even pattern libraries, saves time, enhances efficiencies, and fuels a consistent brand identity.

Another critical case for the digital style guide: the individuals or the team that is responsible for social media and other aspects of an organization’s online presence often work independently from the design team. In fact, in the current environment, communications are no longer the domain of one department. Individuals throughout the organization have various levels of permissions for editing and updating website content, as well as access to social media channels. Others are creating proposals and presentations. They might be new to the organization or simply required to fly solo.

Welcomed Guidance

Guidance is needed and almost always welcomed. The entire organization benefits from a digital style guide that provides downloadable images and branding information and that includes important design distinctions concerning the use of taglines, images, and logos within social media platforms, the website, email communications, and all digital media.

A digital style guide that makes this information easily accessible is not simply a matter of saving time and avoiding confusion. It provides designers with the opportunity to establish company-wide standards and raise everyone’s game via the exchange of expertise.

One example is a better understanding of the different file formats for logos, icons, and other images. These images need to be made available in different formats for different media, but many people are not caught up on current information concerning the relative advantages of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) image files over raster or bitmap image files such as JPGs, PNGs, or GIFs. SVGs can be edited or enlarged without distorting the resolution. Raster or bitmap images files, on the other hand, are prone to distortion or pixelation when enlarged or zoomed in on.

Clarifying these kinds of distinctions in a digital style guide will help avoid guesswork and ensure that the right choices are made for the right media while sidestepping oversights that will take time to fix.

If your team has not yet created a digital style guide, we highly recommend that you do so. Having the full spectrum of branding information consolidated and close at hand brings a wide range of benefits.

Looking for help creating a digital style guide that stands up to the evolving demands of the digital world? We got your back – give us a call

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