How to Create a Branding Guide
A branding guide is essential for any DTC, B2B, or B2C business.
A branding guide is not just about logos and colors- everything from fonts to layouts. So before you go too far into your next project, think about these things!
As a designer, you can greatly impact how people perceive your client’s brand. And more importantly, you’re in charge of enforcing the rules that will govern everybody who works with content or visuals for this company.
To do this properly and successfully, creating a branding guide for your business is important!
A good brand style guide is essential for any modern business.
Without a well-designed branding guide, your company can look like an amateur operation. Your marketing efforts will be wasted if nobody knows who you are or what you do.
What is a branding guide, and why do I need one
A branding guide is an important asset for any modern business, but it’s important to understand what it means.
A great way to start is by asking yourself these questions:
- Who am I designing this for?
- What is my goal with the design?
- What are the needs of my target audience?
- How can I be true to my clients’ identity while maintaining flexibility given the constraints of different mediums (web, social media, print)?
- What typography look am I was usually drawn to or would be appropriate for this project?
- Which color palette works best with the current logo and overall brand
What is a branding guide?
A branding guide is an important resource for any business to communicate its message consistently across different channels.
This document defines the core elements, including logos, colors, fonts, layouts, and messaging, branding, and it’s incredibly helpful in building a cohesive visual identity.
7 Steps to create a branding guide?
- The start of any brand style guide should include the company’s mission statement, which is used to define the key values of the team. A mission statement can be from “provide excellent customer service” to “fund research on endangered species.”
- The next step is choosing your logo. Your logo is one of your most important assets because it takes on many meanings over time.
- When designing a logo for your company, you must consider its aesthetic value, legibility at different sizes, and how well it will stand the test of time. Your logo is a visual representation of your company’s values, and it is a key demographic(s), so you have to ensure that it fits those group(s) as best as possible.
- After you’ve got these two things, you should create your color palette. This is a core component of any brand style guide and the foundation for every other visual branded element. There are many different things to think about when choosing colors for your business, but here are some basic rules: Keep a limited number of colors in your palette (that way, you can use them consistently).
- Ensure your colors are visible, even when the brand logo is rendered in very small sizes.
- Use analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) for things like links and buttons. Triadic colors (three equally spaced colors on the color wheel) are best for headlines and banners.
- Now that you’ve got some colors, it’s time to pick fonts. Typography is one of the most important elements in design because it determines how easy your content is to read. There are many different aspects to consider here, but make sure your font choices look great no matter what size they are, and make sure they look good together.
- Next, it’s time to define what layout schemes will be used for different content types. You can use anything from a simple grid system to more complex layouts like the Golden Ratio, which is based on the Fibonacci sequence and is often considered aesthetically pleasing. A brand style guide can define a lot of different layouts, but these are some basic ones:
- One-column layout
- Two-column layout
- Three-column layout
- The next step is to create a document that outlines how they will be used when designing anything for your company. This could be a simple one-page document, but it should include an overview of the brand personality and explain how to apply your key elements to different pieces of content.
This is where you need to be very strict about the design rules you’ve laid out in this style guide.
These don’t have to be rigid, but they should still be enforced. If you’re having trouble keeping all of your designs consistent, many great apps help organize and file these files. One example is Adobe’s Brandfolder, but there are other options.
So now that you’ve got your branding guide defined, it’s time to take action!
Ensure everyone on the team has a copy to refer to for any new questions or ideas. As you’ve probably heard, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so try to keep your brand style guide up to date as best as possible.
As a designer, business owner, or strategist, you might not have time to focus on every project detail.
The “Brand Bible” is great because it gives you a solid design framework. It will also be a reference point for any other designers, creatives, or staff members creating content for your company. Plus, it will help you grow!
You can update your team so they always know about the newest design elements.
The branding guide is a key item for any modern business.
For all of these reasons, you should keep it up-to-date!
Start with these five simple tips to help you create an accurate, inspiring guide for your company.
1. Be Consistent
Don’t like your current logo? Change it!
But make sure to update your brand style guide so everyone can learn how to recreate the new version. For example, if you change the color of your social media buttons, add that information in the section about colors and add a little sample graphic, too! Be consistent with your company branding.
If you need inspiration, use the Pantone color finder or Adobe Kuler to get started. You can also give your employees guidelines about how their work should look (i.e., everything has rounded corners and has a bold font).
2. Be Accurate
Make sure all of your content is accurate! If you use a lot of typography, create a cheat sheet so everyone can use the same measurements. If you have several employees who need to know what your company does and why it matters, give them all access to the guide.
3. Be Visually Pleasing
Include any images that would look appropriate on your guide or website, including your logo. If you have a Pinterest board or Instagram account representing your business, use that information to enhance the guide!
4. Be Global
Think about other places your company might interact with customers outside of its own country. The style guide should include all languages, so people know how things are translated and spell-checked. For example, you can use Google Translate for this purpose.
5. Be Current
If your company is growing or changing quickly, be sure to update your work whenever necessary!
For example, if you choose a new tagline or the colors on your logo change slightly, go ahead and include that information in the style guide. Updating the guide will keep it from becoming outdated, and employees will always have the latest information!
You’ll get consistency and accuracy benefit from having such an awesome resource! The more time you put into creating this beautiful bible for your business, the better. So, don’t delay!
Benefits of creating a style guide for your clients
A brand style guide is the absolute best resource for any brand to help streamline its creative efforts.
This is because of its ability to apply the designer’s creative vision to everything from logos and colors to fonts and layouts. It has recently become more than just an organizational tool but a guaranteed creative direction for everyone who works with company content or visuals.
So before you go too far into your next project, make sure to think about these things! Do you have all the necessary brand assets? Is your brand aligned with your client’s brand? Is there consistency in brand messaging? Do you have easy-to-follow brand guidelines?
Benefits of creating branding guides
- It provides brand standards for visual brand assets.
- A brand guide eliminates brand inconsistency by implementing brand standards across all brand touchpoints, including digital and print collateral, signage, packaging, or any other material used to represent the brand itself
- A brand style guide makes it easy for employees to share a customer-centric vision
- Finally, a brand style guide is an extension of your brand
Creating a brand style guide requires more than just your knowledge of graphics software or design trends. This document should be written with intent and each point defined to avoid unnecessary editing after development has taken place.
Reasons why branding guides are important
- Braning guides provides brand standards for visual brand assets
- Eliminates brand inconsistency by implementing brand standards across all brand touchpoints
- Easy for employees to share a customer-centric vision
- An extension of your brand
Examples of what you should include in your branding guide with examples from real-life brands:
- Logo – which logo is the primary logo, and does it adhere to the brand guidelines? Which is the secondary logo? Is there a third, more playful logo for social media, etc.? Remember that logos should never be used inside other logos or words (unless it’s an art piece).
- Color palette – how many colors are included in the brand color palette? How many brand colors should be used in the design element, and how many brand colors should be used in brand collateral? Are our brand colors designated for digital or print use only?
- Typography – what typefaces are included in the brand font library? Do these typefaces come with different weights (light, regular, heavy)? What is the size hierarchy, and where do they fall on that spectrum? How big can these typefaces get before it’s diminishing returns and starts to overpower the message of your brand
- Layout – does your brand have a particular layout style (ex: grid-based) which you adhere to across all brand touchpoints (design files as well as the website, social channels, etc.)? Are there any brand guidelines for brand collateral (ex: brand posters, brand presentations, etc.)?
- Color palettes – where can the brand color palette be seen in practice? Will anyone create brand assets that deviate from the brand guide, or are deviations permitted?
- Branding & logo mark – is this your brand’s primary logo, and does it adhere to the brand guidelines? Does this logo come with different weights (light, regular, heavy)? What is the size hierarchy, and where do these logos fall on that spectrum? How big can these logos get before it’s diminishing returns and starts to overpower the message of your brand
- Photo style – what photo style should be used in social posts? Is there a particular style you want to use across brand photos?Are our brand colors designated for digital or print use only?
- Usage – are there any brand assets that deviate from the brand guide, or are deviations permitted?
This branding guide will approach the brand standards for visuals, brand messaging, brand guidelines per brand collateral, logos, and color palettes to ensure the brand is represented in the best way possible.
There are two different logos in use with different weights – this brand style guide will be expanding on what colors are used in the logo and how large they can be before it starts feeling overpowering.
Four typefaces are used in this brand’s brand guideline – these typefaces all have different weights, with some being more elegant than others.
This branding guide will also have rules for when colors can be used on certain types of collateral.
For example, social media posts should have a more playful tone with brand colors, but brand posters should maintain a more professional tone by not using brand colors. Brand logos will be discussed as well.
There are two different brand logos in use (primary and secondary), with the primary logo having a slightly thicker weight than the secondary logo to make it stand out more.
For brand collateral like brand posters, photos should be taken of people who represent this brand’s target market – strong photos of happy customers can help instill trust for this brand within their target market and provide content for social channels such as Instagram or Pinterest.
Conclusion on how to create a branding guide
A branding guide is a key item for any modern business. The branding guide applies the designer’s vision to every facet of the brand, from logos and colors to fonts and layouts. But really, it’s a little more than that.
Even if some employees might not feel that they need to follow these guidelines, it helps keep everyone on the same page and ensure that new employees are up to speed quickly.
Branding guide also helps others who don’t work with brands daily (outsourced designers, brand vendors) follow proper brand guidelines. They might not be able to read your mind, and you need them to understand what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to brand.
It’s a guide for everybody who works with the content or visuals that represent the company. So before you go too far into your next project, make sure to think about these things!
If all of this sounds intimidating and you want help enacting these principles, let us know.
Our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you to create brand guidelines to help your brand stand out.