Most people are familiar with branding and logo guides, but in the IP industry, style guides are the industry standard. Unlike branding guides, which are provide basic guidelines for logo, colour, fonts and placement, style guides provide a rich library of creative assets for designers to use. They include usage guidelines as well, but can be over 200 pages long, containing a variety of pre-approved artwork. A style guide is the ultimate final step in creating a brand mascot character, and ensures consistency of character and artwork usage.
What does a style guide contain?
Alongside logos, brand colours and fonts, style guides contain character poses (vector or pixel, full colour and line art), group poses if there are multiple characters, key verbiage/phrases which show the personality of the character(s), a character size comparison chart to ensure correct proportions, more complex graphic designs ("badges") with backgrounds and additional text, auxiliary icons, patterns, a do's and dont's section for artwork usage, a packaging guide, suggested product applications (which can inspire licensees), and a legal page.
If there are multiple target demographics, artwork is often divided into different stylistic sections (eg. simpler graphics using mainly primary colours for children, and more complex, fashionable art with a different colour palette for Gen Z).
Seasonal & Yearly Style Guides
After the initial master style guide is created, brands will often continue to create new artwork. A brand may plan to have seasonal marketing pushes around holidays such as Christmas, Chinese New Year and Halloween, or launch a limited series of products for those holidays. In this case, the brand may create a mini style guide showing the character(s) dressed for those occasions and doing themed activities.
Although the original master style guide might have several years' usage value, it's a good idea to create new style guides each year with new assets, so there is a growing pool of fresh artwork for marketing, product design and licensee usage. New characters may be added to the storytelling universe, and a new style guide is an opportunity to introduce them.