By: Liz Murphy
Liz Murphy

[Podcast] Creator's Block, Episode 5: Why You Need Brand Style Guides (and How to Make Them)

podcast, creator's block


Creators_Block_iTunes-01.pngWhat Inspired This Episode?

A few weeks back, Shelby and I co-hosted a monthly webinar for Quintain about brand style guides - both for visuals and for content. And as we said when we were advertising for this webinar, “It doesn't matter if you're talking about redesigning your website or creating content for an inbound marketing strategy. If you don't have visual and content style guides for your brand, you risk eroding your credibility through inconsistent presentation, muddled messaging and sloppy execution.”

Unfortunately, most business owners and marketers consider style guides as a “nice to have” resource and not a “need to have.” That is until something goes wrong, and by then… well, it’s already too late.

So in this episode, Jessie-Lee takes our FIRST guest ever, Shelby, and myself on a deeper dive into the world of style guides - the backbone of your marketing strategy we’re pretty sure you’re ignoring.

Listen to this Episode:

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So, What Did We Talk About?

  • How do you define a brand?
  • What are the consequences a brand may experience if they don’t have style guides?
  • Who is your style guide for, really?
  • How Shelby puts together a visual style guide, and what you should include.
  • Shelby’s experiences with clients who had no visual style guides.
  • Why I developed our style guide and workshop processes, and how they work.
  • What should be included in a content style guide - and why voice and tone are so critical. (The one time that HubSpot totally underwhelmed/disappointed me with their style guide template.)
  • What form should your style guide take, and where should it be stored?
  • Our advice for those who are looking to get started in creating their own style guides.
  • The biggest myths about each of our jobs.

Here’s What We Had to Say:


“[Shelby and I] are both graphic designers. So it wasn’t until Liz took over as her role as content manager and started talking about style guides, that I looked at style guides as a multifaceted thing.”

“Back before we had Frontify, we would tell clients when we sent them a vector of their logo, ‘You’re not going to be able to open up this file on your computer unless you have Adobe Illustrator. But the reason you need this file is for t-shirts and pens, and things like that.’ [That’s because] vector files can get as small as a postage stamp or as big as a billboard - and the resolution looks exactly the same.”

“I really want to paint the picture that [a visual style guide] is more than just a finding place for your logo.”



“What if you’re not using the same logo across all your different pieces of marketing collateral? What if it sounds like a different person wrote every single page of your website?

“Style guides are like processes. You take them for granted until you absolutely need them or there is a problem.”

“We have a tone application matrix for Quintain. I made up that [for my style guides], because I realized I didn’t have a good way to show what it means to adapt your tone in different situations.”



“Both the words that you’re writing and the way you present them to people - that’s everything that’s encompassed in these style guides.”

“I love that [through a visual style guide] I can share all of our templated documents. We have a template for our meeting agenda. We have a template for our PowerPoint presentation - that people should be using! … and I love that I can share this all in one place.”

“Tip number one, you need a brand style guide. You just need it. Even if it’s really, really simple. You just need to have something you can refer back to - that you can show to other people, that you can show to designers.”


Here Are the Resources We Talked About:


One Last Thing...

In this episode, I spent a lot of time talking about who content style guides are for - content creators and marketers. That's not entirely true, however, as I failed to mention one of the pieces of advice I give all of our clients: Style guides are awesome foundational resources that can (and should) be shared with others in your company.

A content style guide is a wonderful way to show people how you position your brand to the public, which can inform the work they do, even if they're not on your content or marketing teams.

Get in Touch and Spread the Creator’s Block Love

What did you think of this episode? Is there another topic or question you want us to take on? Or do you just want to say hi? Reach out to us on Twitter at @CreatorsBlockHQ or using the hashtag #creatorsblockparty. You can also say hi to Jessie-Lee at @jhyphenl, Shelby at @shelbstheging, and myself at @liztypes.

And don’t forget - whether you love us or hate us - we would really appreciate you reviewing our podcast on iTunes

…until next week!


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