Brand Guidelines

Best Tips to Create Brand Guidelines with Examples


Anupam Tiwari
By Anupam Tiwari | Last Updated on May 23rd, 2024 8:39 am

Building a strong brand is not just about a catchy logo and tagline. Maintaining consistency across all communication channels is equally important for creating a recognizable and memorable brand identity. This is where brand guidelines, also known as a branding style guide come into play. These comprehensive guidelines outline the essential elements that define your brand's visual and verbal identity. 

A well-developed brand book clearly stating the brand identity guidelines can be an invaluable tool for any expert marketer or a newbie. Moreover, the launch of AI Design Tools has provided valuable assistance by streamlining aspects like standardizing brand colors, font, design, and layout. In this blog, we'll discuss the best tips to create brand guidelines, exploring the key elements they should include and how you can leverage them effectively.

What are Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines, also interchangeably referred to as a brand identity guide, serve as a foundational document that outlines the essential elements for presenting a brand consistently across all touchpoints. These touchpoints encompass everything from marketing materials and advertising to website design and social media interactions. Moreover, brand guidelines act as a compass to ensure a unified and recognizable brand identity is conveyed throughout all communication channels.

Key Components of a Branding Style Guide

The most effective brand guidelines typically encompass a range of core elements that define and govern a brand's visual and verbal identity. We have listed down some of its most crucial components:

  • Brand Identity: This section deals with the essence of the brand, including its mission, vision, and core values. A clearly defined brand identity provides a foundation for all subsequent elements within the guidelines.
  • Brand Story: The brand story goes beyond factual information, it weaves a narrative that connects the brand with its audience on an emotional level. It explains the brand's purpose and the value proposition it offers.
  • Brand Voice: This section establishes the distinct personality the brand wants to project through communication. Is it friendly and approachable or sophisticated and authoritative? Defining the brand voice ensures consistency in tone across all marketing materials and interactions.
  • Logo: The logo is the most integral visual element of any brand. It serves as a readily identifiable symbol. The brand guidelines should specify the logo's various iterations, including its primary and secondary versions, along with any specific usage rules to maintain visual consistency. You can use a Logo Maker to simplify this task.
  • Brand Color Scheme: Colors have the power to shape brand perception. The guidelines for brand colors define a cohesive color palette that portrays the brand's personality authentically and even reflects what’s the brand about.
  • Typography & Fonts: The selection of fonts plays a considerable role in establishing the brand's visual identity. Brand guidelines specify a consistent set of fonts for headlines, body text, and any other relevant content types. This ensures a unified and aesthetically pleasing visual experience.
  • Imagery: The guidelines might include specific guidelines on the type of imagery used to represent the brand. This could include photo styles, graphic elements, or illustration styles that contribute to a cohesive visual language.

It is indeed essential to document these critical brand elements within a brand book (a comprehensive manual housing all brand guidelines). It helps companies ensure a unified and consistent brand presentation across all marketing endeavors and customer interactions. 

Also read: Learn how to create a brand logo.

How to Create Brand Guidelines in 2024

Brand identity guidelines are vital for internal teams and external partners as the ultimate aim is to encourage brand recognition and build trust among the target audience. Given below are the key steps that brand guidelines should have.

  1. Design and standardize logo usage
  2. Your brand logo is your brand's signature a visual representation instantly recognizable to your audience. Just like a famous singer wouldn't scribble their autograph differently every time, your logo usage needs to be consistent. Your brand guidelines should dedicate a section to logo usage, outlining various logo iterations and specifying proper use cases. 

    For example, Coca-Cola's brand guidelines likely define their primary logo (the iconic red script) for most applications, while specifying a secondary black and white version for specific situations. These guidelines also address minimum size requirements and proper spacing around the logo to ensure clear and consistent presentation across all marketing materials and platforms. Establishing clear logo usage rules ensures your brand's signature remains instantly recognizable and reinforces brand identity with every interaction. Moreover, you can also use editable brand logo templates for inspiration and design your own by easily customizing them.

    • brand logo templates
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    • brand logo templates
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    • brand logo templates
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    • brand logo templates
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  3. Make guidelines for selecting primary and secondary brand colors
  4. Colors are integral in shaping brand perception. Your brand guidelines should establish a cohesive color scheme that goes well with your brand personality and relates. For instance, consider the iconic brand, Apple. Its sleek and minimalist aesthetic is reflected in its primary color palette, a clean white often paired with a sophisticated black. 

    However, they might also include a secondary palette of vibrant accent colors in their brand guidelines, specifying their appropriate use cases for highlighting specific products or marketing campaigns. A Color Wheel picker tool can be a valuable resource during this stage. It helps you explore complementary color combinations and ensure visual harmony within your chosen palette. 

  5. Define brand typography/fonts
  6. Typography plays a crucial role in shaping brand communication. It is important to establish a consistent set of fonts that align well with your brand voice and overall aesthetic. Think of a brand like Tiffany & Co. Their elegant and sophisticated brand identity is reflected in their typography choices. 

    Their brand guidelines might specify a classic serif font for headlines and a clean sans-serif font for body text to showcase a timeless and refined visual style. You can also consider using an AI Font Generator tool while selecting fonts to explore options that complement your chosen brand personality. You can ensure your brand voice is communicated consistently across all marketing materials with a sense of professionalism by clearly defining typography guidelines.

  7. Establish brand voice and tone guidelines
  8. Your brand voice is the personality that shines through in all your communication. Brand guidelines dedicate a section to defining this voice to outline the tone and messaging that best embodies your brand identity. For instance, a brand like Mailchimp, known for its user-friendly email marketing platform, might establish a friendly and approachable voice in its brand guidelines. 

    This would translate into using clear, concise language with a touch of humor in their marketing materials and customer interactions. The guidelines might also specify the use of "you" and "we" to foster a sense of connection with their audience. By establishing clear voice and tone guidelines, you can ensure your brand communicates with a consistent personality, building trust and meaningful relationships with your customers.

  9. Develop a brand story and messaging
  10. A brand story goes beyond just facts and figures; it's the emotional heart of your brand. Brand guidelines should also have a space for creating a compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience. For example, the iconic outdoor apparel brand, Patagonia has a brand story, woven into its guidelines, which likely emphasizes environmental responsibility and a love for adventure.

    This narrative is reflected in their marketing materials and customer interactions to encourage a sense of community among environmentally conscious outdoor enthusiasts. You can create a deeper connection with your customers, inspiring brand loyalty and advocacy by developing a clear brand story and messaging within your guidelines.

  11. Create guidelines for imagery and visual elements
  12. Your brand's visual identity is not restricted to just logos and colors. Brand guidelines should have clear expectations for imagery and other visual elements used in marketing materials. For example, a brand like Dove, known for its focus on real beauty, might specify the use of diverse and authentic models in its brand guidelines. 

    The guidelines might also establish a preference for natural lighting and settings that reflect the brand's message of inclusivity and body positivity. You may also opt for an AI Image Generator tool at this stage to explore visual concepts that fit with your brand story and target audience. 

  13. Outline brand usage across various platforms and mediums
  14. Brand guidelines aren't just about static elements they ensure consistent brand presentation across all platforms and mediums your audience encounters. Consider a global brand like McDonald's. Their brand guidelines would likely outline specific adaptations for different media. For instance, the guidelines might specify a slightly simplified logo version for use on mobile apps while maintaining the core design elements. Similarly, color palettes and messaging might be adjusted for regional marketing campaigns to ensure cultural relevance while upholding core brand identity. By outlining clear usage guidelines across various platforms and mediums, you guarantee a unified brand experience.

    Suggested read: A Strategy Guide for Brand Reputation Management

    Best Brand Guidelines Examples

    The success of a brand hinges not just on its products or services, but also on its ability to establish a strong and recognizable identity. We will discuss a few examples of brands renowned for their exceptional brand experiences, and have a glimpse of their brand guidelines:

    Apple

    Apple's brand identity is synonymous with sleek design, innovation, and user-friendliness. Their guidelines meticulously detail logo usage, color palette (think minimalist monochrome with pops of vibrant color), and typography (primarily San Francisco for a clean and modern aesthetic). Every element reinforces their core values of simplicity, elegance, and cutting-edge technology.

    Coca-Cola

    Coca-Cola's brand guidelines uphold the iconic red and white color scheme to ensure global recognition. The Spencerian script logo and the "Dynamic Ribbon" device are protected with specific usage rules to maintain brand consistency. The brand voice is friendly, optimistic, and inclusive, reflecting its mission to uplift and refresh consumers worldwide.

    Nike 

    Nike's brand guidelines center around the iconic "Swoosh" logo and its proper application across various platforms. The brand voice is energetic and motivational, urging consumers to "Just Do It." The guidelines emphasize the use of bold colors and dynamic imagery that embody the brand's focus on athletic performance and personal achievement.

    Starbucks

    Starbucks' brand guidelines maintain a warm and inviting atmosphere. The earthy green color palette and the classic siren logo create a sense of comfort and familiarity. The brand voice is welcoming and approachable and aligns well with their mission to create a "third place" between home and work for customers to connect.

    M&M's 

    M&M's brand guidelines use a playful and colorful identity. The vibrant color palette reflects the brand's diverse candy offerings, while the whimsical personalities of the M&M's characters contribute to a fun and engaging brand voice. The guidelines ensure consistency in character design and messaging, creating a world of joy and whimsy that resonates with audiences of all ages.

    Recommend read: Explore some of the best personal branding examples.

    Summing Up

    Always remember that well-defined brand guidelines are your guide to consistent and impactful communication. By following these steps and drawing inspiration from successful brands you can establish a clear visual and verbal language that resonates with your target audience.

    So, put pen to paper and start creating your brand guidelines today to build trust, foster loyalty, and ensure your brand stands out in a cluttered marketplace.

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