Using a Style Guide for your Nonprofit Brand

A style guide is a reference tool that shows the key components of your visual identity in one, easily accessible document so you always have the specifics. It’s something that you’ll have open when working on any collateral document so you can add in your fonts and colors as needed. If you’ve some significant skills in branding and graphic design, this is something you can build yourself. But for everyone else, and often even the pros, a style guide is something you buy.

How to buy a style guide

One of the big secrets in the branding and design world is that many of the graphics and visual elements are bought, not built. In this guide we’ll talk a lot about where and how to buy design elements online, and we’ll start with the style guide. A basic style guide will pair a selection of fonts with a color palette that will become the basis for all of your style decisions. Buying graphic elements is really no different than buying anything else online, but there are a few things to consider.

Start with some idea of what you’re looking for

Check out our blog on finding inspiration for your nonprofit branding to get some ideas before you start shopping. Researching what other nonprofits in your mission area are doing with their branding, and what the design community is talking about, will help you get a general idea of what your nonprofit branding should look like.

Thoughts on fonts and colors

Fonts should be simple, clean, scalable, and supported by Google Fonts. The colors should reflect your mission work. Learn more about fonts here.

Where to buy a style guide

Our favorite online marketplaces for style guides and other graphic elements are listed below in the resources section. You should expect to spend between $20-$100. Search for either ‘style guide’ or ‘branding guide’.

Pro tip: setting your style as default

Once you’ve got your style guide, spend a little time setting those fonts and colors as default settings in Microsoft Office or iWork – it will save you a lot of time and always keep you on brand.

Resources

Graphicriver.net – a great online marketplace for all things design
Creativemarket.com – second choice from graphicriver, Creative Market is a similar marketplace with a ton of options