How to Create Brand Guidelines for Your Business?

Brand guidelines are essential to every business. They typically include logo design, tone of voice, and a color palette. Defining these details helps ensure that your clients, partners, and employees represent your brand’s identity and values correctly and consistently.

In this blog, company formation agent, company formation agent, 1st Formations, will explain brand guidelines and how to create them. They will also advise on the standard components of a brand guide and explore their key benefits for businesses.

What are Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines (also known as style guides) state the rules around how your business communicates and how it is portrayed to others. Essentially, they are your company’s personality.

Brand guidelines define the dos and don’ts of design elements like your logo, color scheme, tone of voice, fonts, and their use and misuse. Most brand guidelines also start with a section on brand values and history.

Creating comprehensive guidelines helps your brand maintain consistency in its image and communications. They can be used internally, such as to train recruits on your company’s tone of voice, or externally, such as explaining how to use your logo when outsourcing a design task to a freelancer.

What Your Brand Guidelines Should Include?

There are specific details that brand guidelines typically include. It’s best to be as detailed, clear, and thorough as possible to ensure consistency in your brand’s image.

You should also update your brand guidelines as your business grows. For instance, if you tweak your logo or evolve your tone of voice, your guide should reflect those changes.

Here are the most common and essential components that your brand guidelines should include:

Brand Identity

Start by defining your brand’s identity. Explain who you are as a company, what you do, why you do it, and your history. You should also expand on your mission, vision, values, market positioning, customer base, and how you compare to your competitors.

The brand identity section aims to paint a picture of who you are as a company. If you share your brand guidelines externally, this is how they can get to know you, your story, and what matters to your business.

Logo

The purpose of this section is to define what your logo looks like and how it should be used in different situations. You should include:

  • The logo design
  • It is a color palette (including swatches and color codes)
  • Font(s) (if applicable)
  • Minimum and maximum size
  • Spacing requirements
  • The file formats in which the logo should be shared
  • Example of where and how the logo should and shouldn’t be used
  • All the above for any secondary logos

Your logo brand guidelines should look something like this:

Tone of Voice

This is where you set out your brand’s verbal identity. What language does your business use? Is it friendly, informal, passive, active, professional, authoritative, or fun and entertaining?

Your tone of voice is the essence of your brand’s personality and explains how you communicate with your customers and clients. You should define the vital descriptive terms for your tone of voice (e.g., warm, casual, clear, helpful), any vocabulary you use, and how to apply them in written and spoken form.

When it comes to examples, they should be as clear as possible. Again, include the dos and don’ts and explain how your brand’s language should be adapted in different circumstances. For instance:

  • How do you communicate in emails to customers?
  • Which buzzwords do you use in a call to action (CTA)?
  • How do you construct a social media post?
  • Do you use any emojis?
  • Does your tone differ online and offline?

You can round this section off by explaining how your voice reflects your brand values. Clarify why you’ve opted for these language rules and what they mean to your business.

Color Palette

This section defines the colors you use to represent your brand’s personality. Your color palette should outline your signature color, secondary colors, and other shades used in your logo(s) and text. The aim is to outline which colors your business uses and where and how they will be utilized across different media and marketing channels.

For clarity, it’s worth adding acceptable color combinations – which colors can and can’t be used together? Your color palette should also reference each shade’s official color name and code. That way, when you send your brand guidelines to a designer, they can use the code to find the correct shade to create your graphics.

Your graphic designer or design agency can provide your color palette and codes. Alternatively, you can upload any logos or other images to Image Color Picker, and it will extract these details for you.

The color palette section of your brand guidelines should look something like this:

Typography

Typography is your brand’s written language style. This encompasses elements like fonts, text size, spacing, and alignment. As well as identifying your stylistic choices, you should also provide guidelines on how to apply them.

For instance, specify whether your typography differs online to offline, which fonts, styles, and sizes you use for your logo, slogan, and any other captions, as well as how they should be arranged about each other.

Your typography guidelines should look something like this:

Typography

Imagery

Another key component of brand guidelines is imagery. This includes photography, illustrations, icons, and other visual elements that are essential to your brand identity.

You should define the look and feel of your imagery (e.g., aspirational, relatable, animated, lifestyle) and include best practice examples. Examples can be taken from previous uses or showcase potential imagery matching your guidelines.

As well as best practices, be sure to include bad examples, too. This should be a handful of images that do not comply with your guidelines, which will help clarify what is and isn’t acceptable. Your imagery guidelines should look something like this:

Imagery

Asset Library

When you collaborate with agencies, designers, and clients, they’ll need an asset library. This is a bank of your core brand assets like logo(s), fonts, and images.

In your brand guidelines, you should either attach downloadable files or include a link to your brand toolkit where assets can be accessed. It’s also advised to include multiple file types of each asset to ensure they are compatible with any device or software.

Lastly, adding contact details in this section is a good idea. This should be a key member of your design or branding team. That way, should anyone have any issues with accessing your assets, they can quickly and easily get in touch with the right person.

Governance

Finally, brand guidelines are typically ended with a governance section. Here, you should outline the general terms and conditions of your brand guidelines that others must adhere to when using your assets and list any trademarks your business owns and how they should and shouldn’t be used.

Brand Guidelines Examples and Templates

You can create your brand guidelines with a template if you need inspiration. The design platform, Canva, has 50 free templates for you to choose from, which include the key sections we discussed above.

Templates provide an excellent way to get started if you haven’t created brand guidelines before but remember to customize your presentation to match your brand identity.

Also, look at Slack’s brand guidelines, which we referenced with the images above or Asana’s style guide for a real-life example of what this document should look like.

The Benefits of Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines are beneficial for all businesses. Here are some of their top benefits:

Consistency

Consistency is key – and customers respond to it. As your business evolves and cements its positioning in its market, your customers will start to remember you and recognize your branding. To stay at the forefront of their minds, it’s vital to remain consistent.

With thorough brand guidelines, you can make sure that you maintain a consistent image and communication style that your audience will recognize.

Speed and Efficiency

Clear and detailed brand guidelines allow you to work quickly and efficiently. When you hire a new designer or employ an agency to handle your next marketing campaign, your brand guidelines will give them everything they need to know about your company, its personality, and how it communicates. This toolkit can help you save considerable time and ensure that your brand is represented correctly.

Solidify Your Brand

Brand guidelines can significantly boost your brand’s impression and credibility. They help you develop a solid visual brand identity so that when you work with agencies, contractors, or recruit new employees, they’ll see a concrete, established business. Not only that, but they will also be able to connect with who you are as a business and what you stand for.

Stand out from the Crowd

Even in a congested market with fierce competition, branding will set you apart from others. No matter how small your company is, remember that elements like your logo and color palette are what your customers and competitors see first. So, it’s essential to define and stick to precisely what they are.

Over time, those details will create a lasting impression and resonate with your audience when they see your signature color or slogan.

Protection

Another essential benefit of brand guidelines is protecting your brand and its assets. With a style guide, you can ensure that your business is represented correctly and consistently and avoid the misuse of all the key components that define your brand.

Conclusion

Brand guidelines are a powerful business tool. Their primary function is distinguishing the rules on how a brand’s design assets are used. This includes the logo, tone of voice, color palette, typography, and imagery. Most brand guidelines also include an asset library and terms of use.

The key benefits of creating brand guidelines for your business are maintaining a consistent identity, ensuring efficiency, solidifying your brand, and setting your business apart from the competition.

1st Formations is a top-rated company formation agent in the UK. Having formed over 1 million businesses, they offer complete packages to get your business registered and additional post-incorporation services to continue assisting you as your business grows.

Further Reading


  • Trademark Registration

    The Benefits of Trademark Registration for your Logo

     

  • merchandising

    How to Effectively Use Merchandising as a Branding Tool

     

  • brand identity

    6 Tools For Building A Strong Brand Identity

     

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