Brand Style Guide (BSG) Genre Analysis

In preparation for creating your own brand style guide, this project asks you to describe the genre by identifying the salient features of its content and design and by discussing best practices for each feature. You’ll do this by working in teams to examine 15 (or more) BSGs designed by previous students in the minor and by professionals. Each team of students will focus on a specific BSG feature and will present their findings to the entire class on Tuesday 1/24; the presentations should be no more than 5-7 minutes.

BSG features: logo, typography, color, imagery, writing content & style, distinctive feature, page layout (including special pages–covers, inside covers, table of contents)

BSG examples to use in your analysis

Your goal is to describe the essential and optional content for the BSG feature that your team is covering, as well as to provide advice about best practices for that feature. You can present this information in a variety of formats–for instance, a slideshow, a PDF document, a video, a website, or another format. I’ll collect your presentation in one of those formats (or I’ll record it) to post it on the class website so that students can refer to it throughout the quarter.

Keep in mind that your audience is your fellow students who will be creating a BSG this quarter. Strive to provide a clear, concise discussion of the feature along with easy to understand, easy to implement advice. Bonus points for presentations that are themselves bold and delightful!

The best BSG Genre Analysis projects will:

  • effectively present the essential and optional aspects of the BSG feature
  • explain best practices for presenting this feature in a clear and compelling way
  • provide useful advice for the target audience
  • use examples effectively

The best presentations will be:

  • verbally and visually engaging
  • clear and well structured
  • focused on the needs and interests of the target audience
  • kept within the 5-7 minute time limit

Brand Style Guide

For the major project in the course, you’ll use a variety of programs to create a brand style guide that presents your “brand” visually and in writing. You’ll be creating the various parts of the BSG each week, with feedback from me and your peers. I’ll provide an interim grade about halfway through. The project is due as a PDF anytime from Friday 3/17 at 5:00 pm.

Please do not use Canva to create your BSG. Canva is an excellent resource but unless you purchase the Pro version (and even then) it constrains your creative options. You can use Adobe’s InDesign or another document design program. Google Slides or PowerPoint are also good alternatives.

Please get in touch with me during week 8 if you would like to create the BSG as a website. If you use a template for your BSG PDF or website, please also submit a memo in which you describe the changes you made to the template to make it reflect your brand style.

Required elements, though not necessarily in this order:

  • front and back covers and inside covers (or welcome/goodbye screens if you create a website)
  • table of contents (or navigation to main sections if you create a website)
  • your story/welcome
  • voice/mission/style
  • lettermark logo and lockup in several colors
    • one or more mockups displaying your logo on an item (e.g., business card, clothing, coffee cup, billboard, etc.)
  • typography
  • color palette
    • moodboard?
  • imagery
    • moodboard?

typography draft

Decide on the two or three typefaces that will be included in your Brand Style Guide. Decide (tentatively) how you’ll present the typefaces in your BSG and include a brief description of the characteristics of each typeface that show how it is reflective of your brand style. Upload the PDF to the typography draft folder in Google Drive.

You’ll create a personal lettermark logo (in black and white, until you decide on your color palette) using your initials or your first or last name, if it’s short. Keep in mind that the best logos are simple, scalable, memorable, versatile, and relevant. Your lettermark logo should be reflective of your brand–that is, your values, style, personality, and professional goals. You should display the logo at different sizes and also create a “lockup”–that is, your lettermark logo plus your full name. These should all be in black and white; you can also show your logo in a few colors, but that’s optional.

Here’s an example of a logo draft that would be fine to have at this point; keep in mind that you’ll eventually be incorporating the logo in different colors and with different specifications in your BSG. 

logo exercise

Following Illustrator tutorial #1, use Adobe Illustrator or another vector graphics program or PowerPoint/Google Slides to create three artboards or “pages” with different options for your lettermark logo and your lockup. Think of each artboard as presenting variations on a theme, with your lettermark initials and full name in the same font or combination of fonts but presented in different placements or at different sizes. Here’s an example of a single artboard. Export your work as a PDF, and be prepared to share it in class on Thursday 2/3.

color palette draft

Decide on the color palette for your Brand Style Guide. Determine how you’ll present the palette in your BSG. Provide names and brief descriptions of each color, along with identifying hex codes and/or CMYK/RGB codes and a description of how the colors should be used as part of your brand. Upload a PDF with this information to the color draft folder in Google Drive.

moodboard exercise

Using Photoshop or another image editing program, create a moodboard that identifies the colors and image styles that you might use as part of your visual identity. Use the mood board templates found on the Resources page or use other mood board templates that you find or create yourself.

mockup exercise

Using Photoshop or another image editing program, create several mockups with your lettermark logo and/or lockup. Use the mockup files found on the Resources page or use other mockups that you find or create yourself.


tentative list of discussion topics:

  1. design
  2. collaboration tools and strategies
  3. brand style guide and branding resources
  4. adjectives and inspiration for your own brand style
  5. logo or font resources
  6. letter/font description
  7. color inspiration
  8. imagery
  9. page design
  10. best writing advice you’ve ever received