I loved this article because so much of L Studio’s recent work has required us to create style guides for new or refreshed brands. The purpose of a style guide is to balance specificity with generality. To convey the overarching graphical sense of the brand (and the meaning behind that), without confining it to the limitations of everyday applications. Not to get too big for our britches, but we think a style guide should be something like the US Constitution: a document that is general enough to remain useful (with just a few amendments) for a few hundred years.
So how do we tell users exactly how to use a brand without stifling it and making it cumbersome? How does everyone become a designer?
The truth is that branding is a language. The brand resides in the terms we use to articulate the story of a place or organization. These involve both verbal and visual cues. Style guides are like language primers. They are very primitive tools, but when put into the hands of fluent speakers (e.g. Designers who understand the vision of a place or organization) they can be practical roadmaps to find a starting point for design. You could say that the style guide defines the key and tempo of the song, and the designer is asked to riff from there.
Branding Is About Creating Patterns, Not Repeating Messages
By Marc Shillum, June 27, 2011 Fast Company Design
A brand pattern creates more value than repetition. It provides coherence among disparate mediums and continued relevance that can adapt and respond to its audience. A brand pattern connects a product to an experience and an audience, allowing the brand to continually grow.