The Brand Guide: What Is It and What Should It Include?
What are brand guidelines?
A brand guide is necessary for any medium-sized business to take the next step in growth. Here at Vers we call it a Brand Voice Guide, but you may have heard it referred to as one of the following:
- Corporate Style Guide
- Brand Standards Guide
- Brand Toolkit
- Brand Bible
- Brand Identity Guidelines
Generally, each of these refers to the same thing with some minor differences. So, what is a brand guide? A brand guide creates the blueprint for your company’s branding. It incorporates how your company’s visual media should look, and what words and phrasings should be incorporated in communications. It will show how to maintain a consistent message across a wide range of channels such as websites, landing pages, images, ads, social media, blogs, and emails. While every brand guide is a unique document, there are essential components that must be incorporated into each one.
A typical brand guide will include a section that goes over logo usage, brand photography, typography style, and graphic design. Each section will go over, in detail, how to use each topic to create a consistent message throughout your brand. This will tell everyone who communicates about your brand exactly how it should be presented.
Why are brand guidelines important?
The main purpose of creating brand guidelines is to give anyone who is going to create something on behalf of your business an overview of exactly how you want to be characterized. Whether it be your staff or contractors, a brand guide is the single most effective and efficient way to allow them to accurately describe and define your company. If you want your organization to maintain a consistent message across all channels of communication, a brand guide is essential.
By utilizing a standard brand document, your staff and contractors will become more independent as they will have a comprehensive document to reference whenever they are unsure of how to best represent your brand. This consistency in communication will allow your clients to know exactly what to expect from your organization regardless of who they are speaking to, or what they are looking to achieve from working with you. Your clients will get to know your business like they know their best friends, calling you whenever they have an issue you can help with.
Brand guidelines are a great way to take the next step in your business by ensuring your clients always feel like they are working with the same person regardless of who they are speaking to in your organization.
What should be included in a brand guide?
Brand assets are the unique attributes that make your organization instantly recognizable. A great example of this is the check mark that Nike uses. Without even the name attached to their logo, Nike is instantly recognizable to nearly every person in the world.
According to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, one of the best ways to improve your branding is by assessing and utilizing your brand assets. Assessing your assets will help ensure you are not using any elements in your branding that would be associated with one of your competitors.
Identifying brand assets and utilizing them in your overall guide will make your company instantly recognizable to your prospects and clients.
Brand standards are guidelines for using logos, photography, typography, and graphic design in your message. They will outline your brand identity, and how to convey it throughout your communications. These brand standards will reinforce the image you have spent extensive resources in creating throughout not only your marketing but in all representations of your business.
Logo usage guidelines:
These guidelines will detail exactly how your brand logo should be used. It will go through where your logo should be used, acceptable sizing of your logo, location on the document your logo should be seen, approved color palettes for your logo, and other rules for acceptable use of your logo.
Brand photography guidelines:
These guidelines will describe the best practices for utilizing brand photography. It will detail what type of lighting should be used, level of contrast, primary colors, angles photos should be taken at, and acceptable resolutions.
Typography style guide:
These guidelines will detail what typography your brand uses. It will show the font your company uses, the weight of your fonts, when to bold, italicize, or underline, and sizing of fonts in various uses.
Graphic design style guide:
These guidelines will show exactly how graphic designs should be created and utilized throughout your organization. This will be a comprehensive guide you can hand to any graphic designer for them to know the requirements and standards your organization uses in all graphic design.
How to Use a Brand Guide
For a brand guide to be effective, it has to be used throughout your organization, kept up to date, and clearly written with examples. Vers recommends you distribute this guide throughout your organization to all parties that represent you, as well as keep a copy in an easily accessible place. A brand guide should be reviewed annually in order to keep up with your ever-evolving organization. To ensure anyone using your guide utilizes it appropriately, the guide should be written clearly and with visual examples for them to reference. A brand guide can be a great asset to any business if it is easily accessible, kept up to date, and clearly written.