When it comes to your branding, you can’t afford to have your brand image muddled in the minds of your leads and customers.
It is always easier to start with the best brand guidelines possible than to go back and clean up a mess.
Whether you have noticed your team isn’t producing the right content for your brand or you have never heard of brand guidelines before, this guide has everything you need to know to get your branding on the right foot.
This step-by-step guide will cover the following:
What Are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines are a complete resource that explains how your brand is displayed to the world.
This includes the tone of your messaging, fonts, colors, acceptable placement and changes to brand images, and much more.
Typically, your brand guideline will be available in an online format that can easily be shared.
This is important because it allows new outlets, PR firms, freelancers, marketing agencies, influencers, and more the ability to easily access information about your brand.
What Is The Purpose Of Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines allow you to create uniformity with your brand and how it is displayed. If you have partnerships with multiple companies, you can have peace of mind knowing they all have the exact same information about your guidelines.
Rather than having to disseminate lengthy emails, you can simply attach one document that explains it all.
Why Are Brand Guidelines Important?
Brand guidelines are crucial for any business, whether they just opened their doors or are celebrating their 50th birthday.
Without brand guidelines, it is far too easy for a brand identity to become muddled. With guidelines in place and shared with appropriate parties, the brand can ensure it is displayed the way it wishes to be to the world.
Some of the most important reasons to have brand guidelines include:
If you regularly work with freelancers or are quickly growing a team, you need to have a way to control the voice of the brand.
Rather than rolling the dice, your brand guidelines ensure you have consistent quality across all media produced.
From marketing copy to graphics and sales flyers, your brand guideline ensures everyone is on the same page from the start of the project.
Even those with the best of intentions can forget to mention a crucial piece of information when speaking about a brand.
With brand guidelines, everyone has the same clearly written information as everyone else on the team. While the guidelines maybe a few pages long, excuses of “I didn’t know” are out the window.
Everyone who is working on or with the brand will have the same comprehension of brand identity as the rest of the team.
This also eliminates the need for answering the same questions. Rather, you can say, “refer to the brand guidelines” and save precious time during your workday.
Brand Identity & Recognition
The image that arises in your leads and customers’ brains when they think of your brand is what you strive to keep the same.
You do not want them to be confused about colors, logos, or fonts. When they think of your product or service, you want them to have a clear image of your brand.
With brand guidelines, your company can rest easy knowing your brand will always be displayed in the correct light.
This makes it easier for your customers to recognize your brand during their decision-making processes.
Brand guidelines are incredibly important for every business. If you don’t currently have one or haven’t updated yours since it was created many years ago, keep reading this guide.
We will teach you everything you need to know to create the best guidelines possible!
What Should Brand Guidelines Include?
We will go over this further in the next section. To quickly preview what is to come, the following items should be included in every companies’ brand guidelines:
- Brand essence (voice, tone, and personality);
- Value proposition the brand provides;
- Tagline(s) (if applicable);
- Messaging pillars;
- Color palettes;
- Logo and its acceptable variations ;
- Fonts and typography;
- Examples of what is and is not permitted.
When the right amount of time is set aside to ensure all aspects of your brand guidelines are checked off, you can have peace of mind knowing your brand will have a uniform identity moving forward.
Now, let’s move on to the part of this guide you really came here to read: how to create brand guidelines.
How To Create Brand Guidelines In 5 Steps
We know this is what you really came to this guide for, so we will not delay any further. Here is our simple step-by-step guide to help you create brand guidelines in 5 steps!
1. Select The Format
Before you create your guidelines, you need to know which medium they will be available in for access.
Some companies only use digital guidelines while others use print or a mixture of both. We advise all businesses to at least have digital brand guidelines.
However, some companies can still benefit from having a printed guideline (like those that still have to conduct business face-to-face).
For digital guidelines, a PDF file is a great start. The file sizes are small enough to store on a computer, and PDFs are easy to view on the Cloud or in a web browser.
Nowadays, you may even see brand guides in a digital flipbook format. These create the same look and feel or a printed guide while viewing it on a computer.
2. Identify The Elements
Step 2 will be the second-longest step of this process. This is the time where you decide what must be included to have an effective brand guide.
This step should not be rushed, and you may go through several ideas of the elements that should be included before moving to step 3. That is normal and expected.
Consider the following basic elements that are included in most brand guides.
Your brand story explains your core principles and what makes you stand out among others in the industry.
This section may be one page or as many as you desire. This is where you have free rein over how your company’s story is told.
- Purpose: Why was your brand created?
- Vision: What will your brand achieve in the future?
- Mission: What is your brand set up to complete and how will you do it?
- Values: What principles guide your brand?
In addition to the above, you can include your history, milestones, and other pertinent information (e.g. patents, awards, etc.) about your brand’s background.
Your brand has a voice, just as each person on this earth has their own voice. You must create a cohesive tone and message that is easy to identify and correlate with your brand.
To do that, your brand guide should include:
- Brand essence;
- Value proposition;
- Messaging pillars.
By explaining your voice, tone, and personality, you can have peace of mind that your brand will sound like itself through any content that is produced.
Brand Visuals & Design Guidelines
One of the most recognizable aspects of your brand is it’s visual. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Fonts and typography;
- Interactive elements;
- Motion graphics;
- Web design and development.
This will be one of the most important areas of your brand guidelines.
You will want to sit down and identify exactly what you want your brand to be correlated with in the minds of your customers. This means identifying more than just your logo. This section should never be rushed.
Miscellaneous Brand Elements
Certain brands may have other elements that create recognition. Some of these include audio and scents.
Since each brand is unique, it is important to determine if there are any unique aspects that should be included.
Remember: Your brand guidelines also represent your brand. Make sure the entire guide matches your brand image and tone to create a solid brand identity.
3. Create The Brand Guidelines
Now that you have gone through step 2, you have successfully made it to the longest step of creating brand guidelines: step 3.
This section may be completed in a few hours or a few weeks, depending on how well you know your branding elements and how you want to describe your brand.
While the design of your brand guidelines is important, that is the last aspect you should focus on right now.
Your first and primary goal is to make sure you can accurately describe how your brand should be shown to the world.
When it comes to the messaging of your brand, you will want to add common use examples like:
- Social copy;
- Press releases;
- Marketing emails;
- Promotional content;
- In-app messaging responses.
If there are any words or phrases you do not want to be associated with your brand, this is the time to include them.
If you feel compelled, you can even create templates that make it easy for anyone reading the guide to create a marketing company that aligns with your brand messaging guidelines.
The visual elements of your brand take up the most space in the minds of our customers. You want to ensure that your brand identity remains consistent by providing details on:
- Logo placement;
- Color palettes;
- Typography placement;
- Image guidelines.
You will want to make sure you include acceptable logo variations, including changes to the element places and acceptable colors. If you do not want your logo altered at all, make sure that is clear.
Additionally, you need to include dimension requirements and placement instructions for all associated branding and imagery for your brand.
Otherwise, you will find your logo and imagery are used in every way except for the way you intended.
4. Make The Guidelines Accessible
However, you wish to create your brand guide, make sure it can easily be shared internally and externally.
This isn’t something you want to determine the day someone needs it. Have a system in place that makes it easy for you or your team to share the guidelines quickly.
Use a shared drive, Cloud-based server, or create a page on your website that can be readily accessed.
Pro Tip: Make sure any company, brand, influencer, etc. you are currently working with has your new brand guidelines in hand. This will prevent them from using your old branding. This also gives you the chance to tell them where the updated copies will be added in the future.
5. Update Your Brand Guide Regularly
While all of the steps in how to create brand guidelines are important, step 5 is crucial. You must keep your brand guide up-to-date.
Even if nothing changed over the year, release a new brand guideline annually to ensure your brand image remains the same. You do not want to have someone working off old information.
If something has changed, make sure you point that out. Since these guides can be lengthy at times, you do not want a crucial piece of information to be missed.
As you can see, brand guidelines are vital to businesses of all ages, sizes, and industries. Regardless of where you are in the process of developing or maintaining your brand, you need effective and clear brand guidelines in place.
If you haven’t already, download our Brand Bundle Kit now! This kit will be instrumental in helping you create a clear brand image. It will also make creating your brand guidelines that much easier.