At the heart of every successful business is a strong, consistent brand identity. Having a solid and recognizable theme has become essential in today’s marketplace, helping to foster credibility and familiarity among consumers. And just like with every other aspect of your business, the best way to do this successfully is to plan for it. That’s where a brand guide comes in.
What is a Brand Guide?
A brand guide (also known as a “brand book” or “style guide”) is essentially a document that establishes the distinct rules and standards that dictate your brand. It sets the guidelines that will create a unified vision for your brand from your logo design to your website to your personal communications. This allows employees and contractors alike the flexibility to be creative while also keeping your brand stylistically consistent.
A basic brand guide will include:
- Brand Background: An overview of your brand’s history
- Brand Personality: Your brand’s mission, vision, and key values
- Logo Guide: Specifications for size, colorization, and placement
- Color Palette: Primary and secondary colors to use and their combinations
- Fonts and Typography: What typestyle(s) to use and when to use them
- Company Template: Design for business cards, letterheads, and press releases
- Web Guidelines: A generic template of your website layout and navigation
As your business grows and develops, so should your guide. It’s beneficial to have as much planned for and ready-to-go as possible. A more detailed guide can include:
- Photography style and image use specifications
- Copywriting style and voice
- Social media guidelines
- Advertising treatments
- Print- and web-based design layouts and grids
- Brochure/flyer layout
- Signage and outdoor advertising specifications
- Merchandising applications
- Editorial guidelines
Photo Credit @ Optus.
When Do You Need a Brand Guide?
A brand guide should be your first order of business when cultivating your brand identity. Ideally, it will be developed by an experienced graphic designer at a brand management or marketing agency at the same time of your logo design. The earlier you have this brand guide completed, the easier it will be to ensure that your brand identity is consistent. Having your brand guide completed right away will also help prevent any complications or redesigns later on.
That being said, it’s never too late or “not the right time” to get a brand guide. No matter what stage your business is in, these style guidelines will help bring your look together and create a stronger brand identity moving forward.
How Do You Use Your Brand Guide?
Think of your guide as a learning tool for getting to know your brand. Upon new hires at your company, employees should be given a brand guide in order to familiarize themselves with your brand’s vision and standards.
There will also be times when your company needs to hire third parties (like designers, photographers, advertisers, etc.) to assist in promoting your brand. Without a brand guide, this can lead to inappropriate logo use, incorrect colors and typefaces, and other misused design elements that cause a lack of cohesion in your brand. A brand guide is the perfect solution for making sure that people with limited understanding of your company can easily work within your brand’s set guidelines and identity to create beautiful work that’s consistent with your style.
What Does a Brand Guide Look Like?
Here are five great examples of brand guidelines: