BrandingFeature

12 magically meticulous design style guides

Get inspired by these big-brand style guides, a logo and typography fan's dream!

This is heading directly into geek territory. But we are self-confessed geeks, particularly when it comes to logo design, typography and pictograms. And that leads us to the meticulously regulated world of brand style manuals...

A style manual, or style guide, is a set of standards for the design of documents, signage, and any other form of other brand identifier. The reason for their existence is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.

We love the obsessive nature of these, and so here we've gathered 12 of the best to inspire you when you create your own brand style guides...

01. British Rail

The British Rail style guide dates back to the 1960s

Certain members of the Creative Bloq team have spent hours poring over the British Rail corporate identity manual (okay, it's me) and it is easy to see why. Epic levels of obsessive behaviour abound in the guide, which dates back to 1965, and some of the pictograms are a delight.

02. Channel 4

The Channel 4 style guide is simple, clean and uncluttered for ease of use

Channel 4's comprehensive style guide leaves no room for confusion on how its brand is used. The guide is 46 pages long, each of which is clean and clear, stating a single guideline per page, often accompanied by a graphic for visual reference.

03. Skype

The Skype style guide lets illustration do all the talking

The Skype style guide is brilliant for many reasons - its pages of cool illustrations being one of them. The communication network hasn't filled its guide with pages of industry jargon, it simply employs easy-to-understand explanations and graphics to get its point across.

04. Apple

The Apple style guide is made up of 48 pages detailing exactly how the company's branding is to be used

One of the biggest companies in the world, Apple has a comprehensive style guide detailing how its branding is to be used. Clean, clear and concise, this 48-page guide explains exactly how to use Apple assets - even where to apply stickers to your Smart car.

05. Adobe

Adobe's style guide goes into great detail about how you can use the branding, with some strict rules

Adobe is one of the design industry's strongest brands, and protecting that cast-iron integrity is this style document. So beware - do not use the red tag logo, it is for Adobe use only. (We do love it when you're forceful, Adobe!)

06. New York City Transit Authority

The images of the New York City underground standards manual are a frustrating joy

We love this collection of photos of the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, designed by Massimo Vignelli of Unimark International, which feature a font that looks very much like Helvetica and some great pictograms. But please Mr Website Owner, can you scan the pages in as well? Thanks!

07. Barbican

The Barbican has ultra-specific instructions for the use of its circle logo

The Barbican theatre's identity "is not just a logo. It is a design scheme composed of a number of core elements that come together to create a distinctive look and feel that makes the Barbican brand instantly recognisable". Which is why this guide is so important.

Having said that, the Barbican allows a degree of creative flexibility for designers tasked with using its identity, and takes you through exactly how to achieve that. Which is nice.

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08. Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox style guide will keep your fox facing the right way

Mozilla has this handy description of an erroneously utilised Firefox logo: "Think of these as the equivalent of wearing your shoes on the wrong feet: they’re still shoes, they’re basically where they’re supposed to be, but it just feels wrong." This style guide will ensure you know your left from your right.

09. Macmillan

Macmillan's document focuses on the charity's brand values as well as style

Cancer charity Macmillan's 67-page document is comprehensive, containing identity design rules for everything from signage to infographics, plus how to use the brand's familiar green colours and which photos are best used as the image silhouettes you'll find in the charity's marketing material.

10. Boy Scouts of America

No surprise that the Boy Scouts of America style document has strict guidelines for badge design

Dib dib dib! The quickest way to achieve your logo design badge is to follow the Boy Scouts of America's mildly militaristic manual. Just don't think of writing the scouts' tagline "Prepared. For. Life." without those all-important full-stops...

11. easyGroup

easyGroup style guide
Orange is key to easyGroup's brand image, but it must be the same orange everywhere...

Budget brand easyGroup, home of easyJet, easyHotel and easyinternetcafe, is very famous for its orange branding. You cannot miss it in airports all over Europe, and there's a reason for that - cleverly implemented (and bright) brand strategy, all outlined in this style guide.

12. DC Comics

Dc comic colour chart
The colourists only had a handful of colours to work with back in 1982

Originally founded in 1934, DC Comics - which brought us Superman, Batman and more - created this chart in 1982 to guide its colourists in their style and creativity. It seems the comic art world has come a long way since the 1980s. Whether or not more choice actually means more or less creativity, though, is another matter entirely...

This is an updated version of an article that previously appeared on Creative Bloq. Have you seen any awesome examples of style guides? Let us know in the comments box below!

Words: Craig Stewart

Craig Stewart is managing editor of Creative Bloq.

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