Would you buy a house from a builder that didn’t use blueprints? Would you sail across the ocean without a compass? There’s a reason for blueprints and a reason for compasses. Without them, you’re essentially building and navigating in the dark.

These examples, though extreme, are akin to having a brand without brand guidelines. Without them, your brand is operating without direction. Without visual identity and clear messaging, your brand can’t create a cohesive and memorable identity in the minds of your audience. This results in a disjointed and potentially damaging brand image.

What are brand guidelines?

Think of brand guidelines as the instructions on how to represent your brand across channels and assets. Simply put, brand guidelines (also referred to as “brand standards,” “style guides,” or “brand books”) document your brand. They can end up being just a few pages or a hundred depending on the level of detail your company requires. The important thing to remember is that they are a set of rules or “instructions” for how your brand should be perceived by and communicate with your target audience. 

New School of Architecture & Design brand guidelines designed by Mad Fish Digital.

Why does a company need brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines allow a company to protect its brand’s integrity as well as build credibility and recognition. This cohesion is important because it helps establish a strong brand that resonates with the audience, which is essential for building brand awareness and authority. In a recent report, brand consistency has been found to contribute anywhere from 10% to more than 20% in revenue growth.

Inconsistent brand usage undermines the trustworthiness of a brand. The inconsistency can affect a company’s bottom line. In the same report, it was found that without guidelines, creative teams spent five to 10 hours per week on mundane edit requests, which could have been avoided if a cohesive set of standards and rules was in place.

What should brand guidelines include?

When creating brand guidelines, ask yourself who will be using them. This could include your internal marketing team, an agency you are working with, or third parties with whom you partner that make use of your logo or images.

Brand guidelines should always include:

  • Cover with creation date
  • Introduction: This is an introduction about your brand, this could be about your brand, mission and/or values
  • Logo: Defines the logo
  • Logo clearance and sizes: How much white space should be left around the logo, the smallest size at which the logo can be used
  • Logo misuse: How to not use the logo, for example: wrong colors, titles, outlines
  • Color palette: Primary and secondary in RGB, CMYK, HEX, Pantone
  • Typography (web): What fonts are to be used on the web to maximize legibility
  • Typography (print): What fonts are to be used  in print to maximize legibility

Brand guidelines can also include:

  • Promotional material examples
  • Letterhead and business cards
  • Email signature
  • Icon style 
  • Illustration style
  • Design elements
  • Photography
  • Guidelines for social (this is great if you have multiple social channels for different business locations)
  • Web design standards (headers, sub-heads, body copy, quotes, etc.)
  • Writing best practices (messaging, tone/voice, grammar notes/terms)

OnePeak Medical brand guidelines designed by Mad Fish Digital.
Check out our case study to learn more about
our work with OnePeak Medical.

Who should create your brand guidelines?

While there are plenty of brand guidelines templates out there to use, it’s best to work with an expert branding agency. An agency will be able to identify the needs and opportunities of your brand. 

Our team recently worked with Create Now, a nonprofit located in Los Angeles. Create Now works closely with the community and volunteers, so it was important to help grow their brand recognition. This would help them build trust, credibility, and visibility. During the process, we identified the need for a brand refresh and updated guidelines, which included new design elements, color palette, and photography. 

Create Now brand guidelines designed by Mad Fish Digital.

Take a look at our case study to learn more about our work with Create Now.

Connect With Our Marketing & Design Agency 

A well-crafted brand guide serves as a go-to resource for anyone involved in brand-related activities, from designers and marketers to content creators and stakeholders. It ensures that your brand identity remains cohesive and resonates effectively with your audience.

Interested in creating or refreshing your brand guidelines? Reach out to our team today! We’d love to speak with you about your brand’s goals and opportunities.