What Are Brand Guidelines and How Can They Improve Your Business?

What are brand guidelines?

A brand book (or guidelines) is a simple way to communicate all the most critical information about your brand quickly. It can range from a very simple couple pages on your logo and colors to book-length with detailed information on creating website graphics or their tone of voice. Ideally they are a living document, as you see that questions are repeatedly coming up on certain topics, you add a page into your brand guidelines to address it.

They can be used for internal departments or for hiring external consultants such as designers, writers, and marketers. It’s one of the first things we request when starting work with an established brand.

Why do I need brand guidelines?

When any business first get started there's usually a founder or small, closely-knit closely knit team who all share an understanding of what the brand stands for. However the business grows and begins to scale, there's an increasing number of people who need to understand and make decisions for the brand. Ideally the brand's essence remains constant throughout different touch-points and departments. For instance, the sales team's presentations, social media posts, in-store promotions and website should feel consistent and in brand.

As the circle of people working on the brand grows, it's important to communicate key information about your brand so they can make good decisions that fit your brand. Creating brand guidelines can ensure better cohesion, save you time, and streamline decision-making throughout your company.

What's included in a brand book?

There's no hard and fast rule on what needs to be included. Generally brand guidelines grow as the brand does. A good start is a short intro to the brand, logo usage information, typography and colors. Since brands are emotive, information on how the brand feels and acts can help guide people’s decisions. You can go big picture with mission statements and outlining your brand’s vision. It can go into details with tone of voice and design specs. The amount of detail usually increases as a brand grows and increasing numbers of people are responsible for the brand.

Our brand guidelines differ by the project but generally include logo, stationery, typography, colors, imagery and a high-level overview of how the brand communicates.

Brand guidelines can include a wide variety of topics including:

  •  Product Imagery
  • Social Media Usage
  • Trademarks/Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Written Brand Personality
  • Useful Brand Statements
  • Authorship
  • Guideposts for decision-making
  • Resources
  • Contact information
  • Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Tagline and Usage
  • History of the Brand
  • Founder Information
  • Explanation of the Brand
  • Logo, Usage and Placement
  • Colors
  • Typography

Ideally guidelines are a living document that grow along with your brand. If you find yourself answering the same questions or correcting the same misunderstandings repeatedly, it's probably time to update your brand guidelines. They require some effort and commitment but ultimately help you build a much stronger, more cohesive brand while freeing your time.