How to Create a Brand Guideline Document
When it comes to great branding, consistency is key. The key to a consistent brand? Creating a brand guideline document.
A brand style guide makes it simple for you to communicate to your graphic designer, different departments within your business, marketing agencies, web designers and more, how your brand assets should be used.
Most Graphic Designers will provide you with a brand style document after completing a rebrand, however, you may also want to add your other brand strategy elements.
In this article, we’ll look at how to create a brand document guideline that clearly outlines your brand asset guidelines and ensures consistency across your marketing.
What is a brand guideline document?
A brand identity guide is a rulebook that explains how your brand’s assets should be used. This includes your logo, colour palette, typography, imagery and more. It plays a huge role in how your brand is perceived by others and guides the design for all of your content including, your printed materials, website, social media posts, blog posts and more.
Using a brand guideline document can help ensure consistency within your branding even when you have different people or agencies working on your graphic design, printing, customer service, web design or marketing.
Why are brand guidelines important?
Whether your business is large or small, brand guidelines play an important role in how your company is perceived. Without guidelines, your brand’s messaging could become confused and, your assets (like your logo) may be used improperly, potentially damaging your reputation.
Here are just a few of the reasons why brand guidelines are important:
- Ensure brand consistency – For any brand to be effective, it has to be recognisable. Ensuring consistency across all of your assets and marketing materials will ensure your brand is recognisable to your clients.
- Sets standards – Rules and standards help to simplify processes. Having a written rule book eliminates confusion and will make it simple for whoever is working on your brand.
- Inspires – Quite often an open brief can be overwhelming and intimidating. Brand guideline documents will help to set a starting point for projects and ensure your brand is used correctly.
Who should create your brand guidelines?
Your Graphic Designer or branding agency should create your brand guidelines at the end, or during the process of your branding or rebranding project. At the end of your project, all of your assets will be supplied to you, along with a PDF brand guideline document that details how your assets should be used.
If your brand is already established, but you don’t have brand guidelines, it’s not too late to develop them. You can either have a go at creating them yourself (using this guide) or speak to someone like us, who will happily put together a detailed branding document for you.
How to create a brand style guide
Brand style guides vary between companies and can be anything from two to a hundred pages long. However, most brand guidelines will always include the following things:
What should be included in your brand guideline document?
Logo Design and Variations
Example: In their brand guideline document, Spotify documents all versions of their logo
The first thing you’ll need to include in your brand guideline document is your logo design. This should include the logo you use in 90% of your communications and any variations that you commonly use.
Examples of logo variations include a full colour and single colour logo, a landscape and portrait logo, and a logo with and without your strapline.
For each variation, you should clearly describe when it should be used, and show visual examples. This will prevent mistakes such as stretching, inappropriate sizing and incorrect alignment.
You should also include:
- Logo Size – List the minimum size and proportions, for both print (in millimetres) and digital (in pixels).
- Logo Colours – Show the colour variations of your logo (including reversed and single colour).
- Logo Spacing – If your logo requires white space around it, give clear instructions as to how much.
Brand Typography and Font Guidelines
Example: In their brand guideline document, Snapchat keeps it simple by using a single font for all of their communications.
Another huge element of branding is the typeface and fonts that you use across your designs. Your business will need to define whether you use one font family across your communications, or whether you utilise multiple brand fonts.
You should include:
- The name of the fonts used in your logo and marketing collateral.
- Which font you use for headings, subheadings, and body text.
- Size – What size should your fonts be?
- Alignment – Do you want your copy to be aligned left, right, or centred?
- Spacing – Include kerning ratios to ensure your font spacing is maintained.
Brand Colour Palette
Example: In their brand guideline document, Mailchimp documents their main brand colour, functional colours and background colours as well as their HEX codes.
Defining a colour palette for your brand will ensure your communications are instantly recognisable as coming from you. Most brands choose four or fewer brand colours.
When choosing your brand’s colour palette, always test how your colours look on-screen and printed. A vibrant colour that looks great digitally may appear much duller in print.
To ensure your colours are used accurately you should include the following in your brand guideline document:
- Print Colour: CMYK colour code.
- Digital Colour: RGB and HEX codes.
- Pantone: Pantone name and number for single colour use.
If your brand regularly uses images or illustrations, it’s a great idea to include this in your brand guideline document. You should provide guidelines for image style, composition and concept, to ensure any images you use are on-brand.
A great way to do this is by creating a mood board. Combine images that have worked well for your brand and examples that depict the style you want your brand to align to.
It’s also useful to define where your brand imagery will be used and how it should be laid out. For example, it may be for your company Instagram account or use in your printed marketing materials.
Your brand stationery could also be included in your brand guidelines document. At a minimum, you should consider including an image of your letterheads and business cards. This will help ensure your stationery is consistent when you employ new staff or need new business cards printed.
You may even want to note the paper stocks and finishes you use when getting your branded stationery printed. This way you'll ensure your business stationery looks and feels the same every time.
Find out more
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what to include in your brand guideline document, but it is a start. For many small businesses, the basics of visual identity should be enough to ensure your branding is consistent. However, larger businesses may wish to consider creating a more comprehensive brand strategy document, including details on their vision and mission statements, buyer personas, brand positioning, competitor research, and more.
If your company is ready for a rebrand, or you would like an expert to create your brand guideline documents for you, don’t hesitate to contact our team of Graphic Designers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 0116 259 9955.