Whether you have a small startup or a rapidly expanding company, a brand guide is a necessity to communicate a consistent voice for your company. Brand guidelines are the basis for company interactions for everything from social media and print designs to employee communications and digital advertising efforts.
In order to create a successful brand guide for your organization, make sure to incorporate the following:
- Overview of business: Think about your company’s history, values, vision and personality. Make sure to highlight the key elements of your business that set you apart from the rest. Try to keep it to a paragraph – you don’t have to describe every detail.
- Mission statement: After providing a summary of your company, use this part of your guide to outline what your business hopes to achieve along with your commitment to your customers. This single statement helps set the tone for all branding by solidifying the message you want to extend to your audience.
- Tone: Briefly describe how your company should represent its voice by including some associating words. For example, is your company personality cheeky and fun or stoic and serious? Either way, your brand’s tone should remain consistent among employees and in written content across all platforms.
- Logo usage: State how your logo should be displayed, specific colors to use, how it displays on different backgrounds/colors, what not to do with the logo, size restrictions and space restrictions. For design purposes, provide visual examples of what to do and what not to do.
- Images: Besides your logo, give instructions for any other images your brand typically uses (i.e. past projects, exterior shots of the building, etc.). Describe when and how certain types of illustrations, clip art or photographs are used and how they should be edited.
- Color palette: Define a breakdown of the colors that are used in your brand and display a hierarchy of primary, secondary and alternative colors. Remember, the point of a color palette is to set boundaries and not include the entire rainbow. Outline exactly how to use each color for every design element including your logo, backgrounds and text. And don’t forget to give color values for print (CMYK) and digital projects (RGB and HEX).
- Type style: Consider how font and style elements will be used, including headers, sub headers, paragraphs, copyright text and quotes. Provide the size ratios to each other as well.
- Templates: Start by explaining how to design business cards, letterheads and compliments slips with the brand and logo in mind. Depending on the type of business you have, you may include additional templates like posters, brochures and even web-based layouts.
While compiling your brand standards, consistency and creativity are key. A brand with more static guidelines makes it easier to recognize across all print and digital platforms. Your logo and designs should also be distinct enough that your company’s personality is easily recognizable.
Finding a balance of consistency and originality in your brand guidelines isn’t something that happens immediately. While building a brand or even rebranding, it’s best to set aside plenty of time to complete your guide and keep it updated to reinforce a consistent vision of your company.
Check out these great examples of recent brand guides for inspiration. Give us a call if you have any questions about outlining design elements in your brand guide!