More often than not, my clients won't have the budget for an in-depth set of brand guidelines, so as a more affordable alternative I'll put together one or two sides of A4 to dictate the following aspects of the brand identity:

  • Typography
  • Colour palette
  • Example of image treatment
  • Graphic device(s)

...rather than going really into detail such as the company's ethos, how the identity shouldn't be used, etc...

I normally refer to my more affordable method as a style guide... does that sound about right?

Or is there really no difference?

  • 1
    What about "Graphic charter"?
    – Vinny
    May 18, 2017 at 11:00
  • Pocket style guide?
    – Summer
    May 18, 2017 at 12:44
  • "Style Brief" maybe??
    – Scott
    May 18, 2017 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


I'm slightly troubled by having differing nomenclature for two things that are fundamentally the same. "Brand guidelines" and "style guide" mean the same thing to me.

I think I'd decide on which terminology you favour, let's say "Style guide", and then either:

  1. Call the lighter version something that indicates it's brevity: "Style guide Lite", "Style guide Min.", "Style guide (Basic)", and then allude the fact that there is (or can be) a "Style Guide (Advanced)". Actually I quite like the last one there... "Basic". Also maybe "minimal" and "expanded" sound quite cool.

  2. Simply don't mention anything at all. Just provide the "Style guide" as is, and then - as with just about anything in life - it could be expanded later as needs or budget allow.

  • "Style Guide" and "Brand Guidelines" definitely mean two things to me... a style guide just being "use this typeface and these colors etc." and brand guidelines being a broader view on the ethos and aims of the brand as well as style and usage guidelines...
    – Cai
    May 18, 2017 at 13:36
  • ...but that's just my instinct; I don't think either view is necessarily more correct.
    – Cai
    May 18, 2017 at 13:36
  • Hi @Cai. I had a bit of a Google around and at a glance it looks like they are interchangeable. Would be interesting to see an actual percentage study, but in five minutes I found some heavy hitting firms using "style guidelines" and "brand guidelines" and other terminologies fairly randomly. Even the link-bait people get confused haha: designschool.canva.com/blog/… OR contentharmony.com/blog/great-brand-guidelines May 18, 2017 at 13:40
  • Yeh I think they probably are generally used interchangeably ...as I said, just my instinct and what they mean to me ...which admittedly doesn't really matter much if they're used interchangeably by everyone else :)
    – Cai
    May 18, 2017 at 13:45
  • A style guide is a tool for documentation and publications; it's usually much more word-heavy than a brand identity guide. A style guide has to have the name and definition and usage rules for every official name used in public documents. Look at the Chicago Manual of Style, or the style guides for publishers. These are dictionary-like manuals that a firm's writers and editors refer to constantly.
    – user8356
    May 18, 2017 at 18:40

I use Short Brand and qualify this at the beginning with what will be included. I've had no negative feedback with this approach in 20 years of practice. It puts me in control with an end point of my choosing.

Typically mine is 14 pages(+ / -) and includes standard usage do's and donts plus examples for stationary and presentation. I supply the logo in regular formats (CMYK & RGB) with a recommendation to purchase a 'house' font for consistency. Budget allowing, I give them PPT / MS Word internal templates so that they don't mess these up. If I've designed additions like the website, vehicles, signage I include these as well. Supplied as a locked PDF which is mostly preferred these days although I have printed them on occasion.

First Brands - short brand

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