Brand guidelines define how a company brand is displayed and shared with the world. The guideline addresses tone, messaging, colors, fonts, image changes, acceptable placements and more. Most guidelines are available in shareable digital formats. The online format allows other outlets, such as PR firms, marketing agencies, and influences, to access the brand information easily. A brand design agency can deliver premium guidelines in five simple steps below:
1. Select a Format
The first step to creating a brand guideline is to determine the format. Consider the mediums the guidelines will be shared. A digital guideline will suffice for most companies, but some may need print or a combination of the two. If the company conducts business face-to-face, make sure the format accommodates premium quality print media.
PDF format is often the format of choice for digital guidelines because the file size is small enough for cloud and computer storage. PDF is also viewable on modern browsers via smartphones and tablets. Some companies create guidelines available in digital flipbook format to create the appeal of a printed guide when viewing using a computer.
2. Identify Key Elements
The second step involves identifying what must feature in the brand guidelines. Brand marketers should take time in this phase as it’s one of the longest and most crucial for effective brand guidelines. If possible, go through several ideas of the key elements, including the basics found in most guidelines as well as personal aspects. Below are some of the top elements required for all brand guidelines:
a) Brand Story
The brand story describes the core principles that make a business stand out from the competition. A brand story can cover one page or many, provided it tells the company’s story in an effective manner. Brand stories should include the purpose, vision, mission, values, company history, milestones, patents, awards, background and other pertinent information.
b) Brand Messaging
Brand messaging is all about creating a voice and cohesive tone of message identifiable with the company. Business brand messaging should include brand essence, value proposition, tagline, and messaging pillars. The messaging explains the brand’s voice and personality reflected through its content across all media.
c) Brand Visuals/Design
The visuals and design are the brand’s most recognizable aspects. A typical brand visual includes colors, logos, fonts & typography, photography, illustration, icons, videos, motion and interactive elements. Motion graphics and web design/development are also part of the visuals and need proper deliberation to capture customers’ attention.
d) Other Brand Elements
Some brands feature miscellaneous elements, such as audio and even scents, to create recognition. Each brand is unique, and the guideline should match the image and tone to develop a solid identity. Determine if the guideline should feature any unique aspects for further distinctions from others in the industry.
3. Create the Guidelines
The third step is the core and longest of all phases involved in creating a brand guideline. Companies should accurately describe how the brand is to appear to the world by defining its messaging and visual guidelines. Messaging guidelines can feature common use examples like press releases, social copies, marketing emails, promotional content, and messaging responses.
The company can also include words/phrases they don’t want associated with the brand. For the visual guidelines, the key is to remain consistent with aspects like logo, colors and typography. Companies must define image and logo guidelines, dimensions, placement instructions, and variations explicitly. The goal is to ensure all imagery and logos are used according to the company vision.
4. Make the Guideline Accessible
The best brand guidelines are accessible and sharable internally and externally. Once the key elements and instructions are defined, the next step is to establish a framework for easily sharing the guidelines between company teams. Most businesses implement a shared drive or use cloud-based servers. A sharable website page will also suffice.
All companies, brands, influencers and marketers currently working with the business should have easy access to the latest brand guidelines. Since guidelines can be updated, it’s easy for business partners to continue using the old templates. Make sure you inform them where they’ll use the new guidelines.
5. Update the Guide Regularly
Step 5 is one of the most crucial as it ensures the brand guideline stays up to date. The general rule is to release a new brand guideline every year, even if nothing changes. Most brands feature slight tweaks, but the image remains the same. Updating the guidelines prevents people from working with the old templates and points out necessary changes.
Working With a Brand Design Agency
Brand guidelines are vital for preventing the company’s brand from becoming muddled. A good guideline ensures the brand is displayed as intended and improves quality control, especially when dealing with freelancers. Brand guidelines also ensure comprehension and eliminate errors. No one will forget any crucial element because everything is laid down in writing.
Companies seeking brand identity and recognition must create practical guidelines for their marketing copies, graphics, flyers, websites, and more. Working with a reputable brand design agency can guarantee premium quality guidelines. Professionals also leverage experience, technical skills and sophisticated tools to elevate the brand.