I recently did a couple of talks and workshops on why it’m important to have brand guidelines, whether you’re a mega brand, SME or single-owner business. In this article I explain the key takeaways from the talks.
1. What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand Guidelines – also commonly referred to as Style Guide or Brand Book – are essentially a set of rules that explain how your brand looks and behaves. Comprehensive guidelines should contain sections on:
Your brand strategy
mission, vision, values, personality, tone, key messaging
Your brand visual identity
brand assets and appropriate usage: logo, colour palette, typography, imagery styling, graphic devices, patterns, backgrounds, icons
2. Why does a business need Brand Guidelines?
One of the reasons you need a style guide is that they help create a strong brand identity. Consistency is key. Furthermore, strong and consistent branding helps clarify what your business stands for, allowing your business to communicate your purpose, your personality, and your promises.
1. Standards & rules
Brand Guidelines are composed of rules on how to use your brand’s visual elements. An in-depth guidelines document will also detail the brand strategy and standards. These standards and rules provide a valuable tool for you, your employees or suppliers to keep the brand cohesive.
2. Consistent comms
By having set standards and rules, it becomes possible to communicate a consistent brand identity. Consistency is important in making your brand recognisable and reliable. It ultimately communicates that your brand takes pride in the details.
3. Instant recognition
Keeping your brand consistent allows it to be more immediately recognisable within your industry and with your target audience. You have 9 seconds to make an impression, make sure that your brand is instantly recognisable.
4. Perceived value
When a brand’s identity is cohesive, it increases the brand’s perceived value. Consistency allows your brand to appear more professional and reliable. By implementing Brand Guidelines, you make it easier to maintain the quality and integrity of your brand’s image.
3. Brand Guidelines examples
Click on the logos below to see how detailed some of the big brands’ style guides can be.
However, most of us are not a mega brand, so what’s needed for a mid-size company? Here’s an example of a brand guidelines document for a mid-size business. It shows just some of the pages of a 40-page document. There’s enough detail both in the brand strategy and identity to keep the brand on-point. It’s an ideal document to send out to external suppliers to commission design work.
But, what if you’re a single-owner business and just want something to help you keep your brand on point? Below you can see a couple of examples of simpler brand documents and links to the full PDFs. A succinct document – just a few pages with all the info a small business owner needs in order to sign up to Canva and get their brand noticed.