Whether you’re just starting out with your business or are 20 years in, mapping out the details of your brand is important to maintain the integrity of your brand. The bigger your company is, the more likely that your brand will experience some inconsistencies. More people equals more interpretations of information. Having a detailed brand guide ensures that your messaging, visuals, and values are recognizable across any touchpoint for your company.
So, what exactly should be in your brand guide? Keep reading! Here is the complete list of specifics to include in your company’s guidelines!
This section seems silly, but the success of any document hinges on the reader’s ability to utilize it. The introduction should define what the document is and the intention behind it. You want to create a document so lucid that a stranger could pick it up, understand the contents, and be able to use it exactly how you intended.
Lead the intro with a description of the company. Develop a well-rounded narrative that lets the reader know what the company stands for; what makes it unique. A successful introduction will touch on where the company has been, where it will go in the future, and how it intends to get there. Close the intro with a brief explanation of the intention of the brand guide along with why and how it was created.
Continuing on with our goal of creating a successful document, the contents section is the next step to ensuring that your brand guide can be used with ease. A reader should be able to pinpoint exactly where they can find the information they need. Is your new design intern looking for the proper use of a logo variation? Oh, of course! Page 6. They get their information and you don’t get distracted by constantly answering questions.
3. Brand Archetypes
The 12 Jungian archetypes each have their own personalities and tendencies. Building your brand’s messaging around one — or a few — of these archetypes creates a multidimensional foundation for your brand on which you can build a voice and an image. Are you an innocent? A rebel? Maybe you’re a lover! Whichever archetype you are, put it in your brand guide! Be sure to include all the archetypes your brand identifies with and a concise statement on how that translates into your business.
4. Brand Promise and Mission Statement
If your company has a mission statement and/or a brand promise, be sure to include it here. A brand is multi-faceted and the more information you can give someone about it, the better they will be able to convey that into their work, and the more consistent your branding stays.
5. Personality and Tone of Voice.
Personality? But, I thought this was covered in the archetype section? Well, yes and no. While the archetypes provide the framework for your brand’s voice, your personality is how this comes to life in everyday practice. If you have identified with a few archetypes, this is the place to discuss how those overlap to develop your unique personality. Are you a lover and a rebel? What does that look like in your business operations? How does this come across in the way you interact with customers? Be specific about the language that should be used surrounding your brand. A list of “always” and “nevers” is a good place to start.
6. Logo Variations and Restrictions
If you have a business, you probably have a logo. Maybe you even went to the lengths of hiring someone to create several variations of your logo. Either way, there’s a lot of work that goes into logo design, so you want to make sure that each variation is used appropriately. Your brand guide should give specific instructions on the correct and incorrect applications of your logo with visual aids. Include parameters like colors, scalability, and use.
7. Color palette and proportions
Developing a color palette is a great way to develop consistency around your brand. Your brand guide should provide exact color codes for your palette as well as appropriate proportions for application.
8. Typography and restrictions
A well-developed brand has specifications on typography that should be used in all digital means and collateral. Your brand guide should discuss why these typefaces were chosen and their appropriate use. Specifications here should include header and body typefaces, size restrictions, and whether or not the typefaces should be italicized.
9. Imagery guidelines
With so many available filters and photo editing softwares, it’s important to clarify exactly what style your brand’s imagery should take on. Eliminate any room for error by providing descriptive adjectives like bright, moody, or textural paired with example photos of the appropriate style and subject matter of images to be used.
10. Branding in action
The most exciting part of developing a brand? Watching it come to life! This is your chance to illustrate your branding in real-life applications. Create mock-ups, or better yet, capture images of your business cards, stationery, merchandise, and signage. This is your chance to get creative with your brand’s designs.
How did you stack up? Creating a useful brand guide is time-consuming, but can save you time and energy in the long run. Did this blog get you thinking about a possible rebrand for your business?
Your logo is a great place to start! Check out this Q&A with our art director to learn the basics of designing a killer logo for your business.
– written by Caitlin Rostampour