Branding reflects the heart and soul of an organization and is the core of successful impressions on an audience. A company might have an awesome brand identity, but the elements of that identity are scattered across different files in different places (a PNG logo there, a PDF mood-board there…). Creating a solid and simple brand guide that encompasses all vital brand information is a must-have for any organization looking to keep their marketing consistent and engaging. Creating a simple brand guide is easy to do and keeping brand standards collected in one space assures accuracy in marketing and a streamlined workflow (no more searching around for individual files!).

Step 1: Choose a Platform

Choose where the brand guide should be created, accessed and updated when needed. A simple document in a word-processing program is the perfect start (just make sure the program allows for image files to be embedded). Other options may include creating a dedicated folder in Google Drive or Dropbox with organized assets. 

Step 2: What to Include

Brand guides may contain a wide range of information from logos to mission statements. Here is a list of the essentials a brand guide should include:

  •   Logos: proper and improper usage

Include the brand’s logo files to demonstrate how the logo should be used. Additionally, include incorrect uses of the logo so branding remains consistent. Some incorrect uses of logos are using the logo with improper brand colors, stretching or skewing the logo so that it looks distorted and rearranging the elements of the logo.

  •       Colors

Include the brand’s colors along with each color’s values. The values could be a Hex code (which looks like this: #008080) or a CMYK, RGB or PMS code. These codes are vital for maintaining a consistent brand, so be sure to include at least one in the brand guide.

  •       Typography

Include the names of the brand’s typefaces and an example of text set in the typefaces. Including a link to the typeface or a note on where it was purchased from is another valuable addition to a brand guide. Sometimes there may be multiple typefaces with the same name online, so including clear directions on where to find the correct typeface is sure to save time and frustration in the future.

Step 3: Taking it to the next level

Logo usage, typography and colors are the essential elements of a brand guide, but there is plenty more to add! Here are a few optional additions that can make a brand guide even better:

  •     Key Language / Slogan / Mission statement

An organization’s CTAs, slogan or mission statement is a great addition to a brand guide. Seeing a business’s core goals and principles in connection with branding elements gives a full picture of the brand’s story and unique identity.

  •     Patterns

Another fun addition to brand identity and a branding guide is a selection of patterns that can be used in marketing materials. These patterns could be a repetition of shapes in brand colors, or a unique pattern made from the brand’s logo.

  •     Photography Style

Setting guidelines for photography assures that proper photos will be used in all marketing channels. These guidelines could be a few simple rules; like no stock photography and no black and white photos. Alternatively, the guidelines could provide more extensive direction for proper photographic subjects and styles.

Step 4: Keep It Handy

Once the brand guide is complete, make sure the guide is easily accessible and easy to share. Brand guides should be helpful and make marketing easier! If working with the guide is not going smoothly, consider moving the guide to a different platform that is easier to access or revising the guide to make it easier to understand.

All Together Now

Having a brand guide is crucial to any organization’s marketing success. Keeping logos, colors, and typography consolidated to one document leaves out the guess work and provides a standard for consistency.

Every brand is unique, so every brand guide should be unique. Do not be afraid to keep revising and experimenting until the guide encompasses the brand’s story in the very best way.

Best wishes for branding and beyond!

Rachel Thompson