How to Create a Brand Guideline Template
When creating a brand identity, one of the most important details is to be consistent and keep all of your elements in one document for easy access when you need it – this is a brand guideline.
Employees, freelance contractors, and yourself will all benefit from keeping it in one place once you’ve compiled it together. Font types, logos, and more are all included.
That said, where do you start in creating your own brand guideline template? In this article, we’ll show you how to go from a multitude of ideas on how you want your brand to come across, to a polished guide that will benefit your company for the long haul and tell you what you should always include.
Sometimes even referred to as a ‘brand bible’, these reference keys are as good as gold for businesses, especially with online presence being significant in the current market.
Consistency is imperative, and the joy of a brand guide is that even if separate departments or people are working on your marketing content, sales, design, and customer service – it will all look and feel the same across the board, thanks to your brand guide.
Why do businesses need a brand guideline?
Having a brand guide is essential for every company to have. It’s how the public will see your personality and begin to trust you.
A detailed document with everything you need in one space will help your team keep that personality type consistent.
Keeping it consistent between each department, freelance contract, employee, and social media content is vital – it makes your brand.
If it’s consistent, when others see your social media content or branding outside, they’ll recognise and know that it’s your brand/company/etc.
Suppose you have multiple different sources of departments, agencies, freelance workers, etc., producing branded images for you or posting on your behalf.
In that case, it’s vital that they all be on the same page and can use the brand book to use the right elements, colours, fonts, and designs to ensure a smooth and uniform end goal and process throughout.
Customers and other businesses won’t take you as seriously if your brand is inconsistent and will feel alienated or unsure about what you’re trying to get across.
A steadfast and structured brand can and will help across the board – examples include customers, other businesses, and anyone looking at your company from the outside.
If you were used to a co-worker wearing suits and having sleek hair every day, and then the next they come in looking dishevelled and unkempt, you’d be concerned about how they’re doing.
The same psychological thoughts apply when you see a business that isn’t consistent with its branding and design elements.
If you don’t know what your brand is and what it stands for – How will customers and your audience?
For ease of use for you, freelancers, employees, and departments
It can’t be said enough how imperative it is to have a brand guide ready to go for business communication. Social media and selling primarily benefit from having a set brand guideline template to go from.
Any freelance contractors you work with, employees, and departments within your company will use the same brand guide document to ensure that their work meshes with your guidelines and will stay consistent – regardless of what it is.
Online posts, store sales, website design icons; it will all be done in line with the guide.
Fewer headaches for everyone, and you will all be on the same page, free to dive into your projects and everything else you have starting up.
It’s easy to pick up the guide and go from – colour codes, font styles, and how you prefer social media/advertising, etc., layouts to look, will make your employees jobs much easier and faster, allowing everyone to move onto other business.
It Saves time, saves money
Saving time is invaluable when it comes to any work, and one of the core components of having a brand guideline at the ready is that it saves time in discussing what you want from your client or employees.
Social media benefits well from a brand guide, as do web designers – it sets all of the tones for what your brand will show off to the world and how you are seen.
Regardless of who’s creating anything for your business, it will all be consistent, and consistency is critical. That’s the biggest takeaway when creating a brand guideline template for yourself or others – you can easily keep it all consistent.
The feel and look of your brand will always come across the same.
A bonus is that you can make it a digital brand guide PDF or hard copy – though digital is the preferred way to go, especially if your team is remote or you’re sending it to other workers for projects.
You can safely do so without the risk of losing any documents as well or can easily make copies. There’s no risk of security issues or data loss, which is, of course – important.
Tips for creating a brand guidelines template
Define your brand
Defining your brand is a crucial core component for any business style guide. Colours, font choices, logo design, and the ‘feel and tone of your branding is what will define you and make you stand out as your own business.
The essentials of a brand style guide are:
– Your brand’s story: Where did you start from? Where are you heading, and where are you currently? It’s easy to relate to a brand when you know their story and that they’re real people and not just a fabricated, soulless company.
– Logo design: Is it simple and casual or quirky? Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites – you recognise them from their logos that are simple solid colours with a single letter or image. It has to be recognisable as your own and won’t disappear into the void of other brands. At the very least, your logo needs to be easy to print and not so complicated that others have no idea what your brand is about or says.
– Colour palette: Bright and cheerful? Neutrals? Dark tones? You can mix and match dark tones such as greys and blacks with bright colours such as yellows or blues, but try to keep it consistent and works across the board from social media to printed in-store works. Use Pantone names, RGB / HEX / CYMK codes to ensure that you’re all on the same page every time. It can appear sloppy and ‘off’ if all of your images are a slightly different shade and tone.
– Typography: Fonts are essential. Easy to read at any scale is a must, and the kerning / spacing should be legible. Psychology does play a factor in typefaces and with colours. An angry and aggressive font may not come across well if your primary audience isn’t into that and will be off-put. If you want a professional brand but insist on using Comic Sans or brush scripts – customers won’t take you as seriously as you could be.
– Imagery: Have your images stay the same style every time. Rich, deep colours and side lighting for products? Stick with those schemes throughout your branding. You can branch out and experiment, of course – it’s a good practice to check in with your audience and ask what their opinion is on specific colours, fonts, and how images or videos are made. They’re more included, and they can help you decide what will succeed more for your business.
Have a clear brand design
Clear branding is essential. If you have too much going on, too many colours, a multitude of different fonts, illegible typeface choices, the colour schemes are hard on the eyes – and more like these examples.
It can hinder your business by making it difficult for customers to understand what you’re about.
It can also hinder and postpone your employees and even yourself to juggle too many design choices and colours.
Pick a colour scheme with similar shades – Easy-on-the-eyes colours such as blues, jewel tones, etc. and match your branding with them.
Sage green backgrounds on most of your posts, ads, or emails? Keep that up for the future, and try not to use harsh contrasts like a bright eye-searing red with a lime font.
Fonts that are easy to read and access – No hard-to-read handwriting, swirl types, or Comic Sans styles that are looked at as ‘childish’ (unless, of course, matches your business and brand style guide!)
Set a tone that matches what you want your business/company to sound like. Do you want to sprinkle in-jokes? Keep your wording casual? Formal? Just the facts?
Be sure to decide what tone you’re setting for the world to see – and keep that consistent as well. Customers and companies won’t be sure how to take your business if you change your attitude every time.
An easy way to determine your personality for your brand guide is to use a few adjectives as you go along. Are you Sophisticated and classic? Quirky and relaxed? Use it throughout your branding.
Tell your story
Where is your brand heading? What do your current goals look like, and where did you start from?
Telling your story within your brand guideline can give teams a quick, short, and sweet story of what your brand is about and what you’re working on, with everyone on the same page.
Grassroots from start to now, using every penny you’ve earned to work your way up, and you love to keep it that way with a small business mindset?
Perfect! Use that and guide your story.
It keeps your team on the same page, everyone gets the gist of what you’re about, and your customers and future business partners know what you’re all about and how you’ve gotten there.
It’s crucial to establish a base and comfortable standing with anyone you’re in business with – whether it’s your employees, yourself, and other sellers or brands.
It can help define what you’re about and what your branding entails.
Keep it simple
Simplicity is key. It may seem overwhelming to get together and learn what you’d like for your brand guideline, but the discovery is what makes it fun.
You get to express yourself and your business with your terms and details.
Logos are a great example of how important it is to keep it simple. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Google
– You know their logos and branding. Blues, solid colours, oranges, simple letters or images – recognisable.
Keep your logo simple, and be sure that you don’t go overboard on an illegible background design.
For your brand guidelines, keep it short for typeface choices – for example, 3 or 4 maximum that is easy to read and work well regardless of the medium, such as emails, social media posts and ads, and offline as well – merchandise, in-store advertisements, and the like. Make sure it’s legible at any size.
Colour schemes? Choose 3 or 4 that interact well with each other. Don’t bog down your guide or make it too complicated for yourself and your team.
For consistency is the exact tones – Use Pantone names, RGB / HEX / CMYK codes, and be sure that you write them down correctly. A slight shift may not seem like much, but it can seem sloppy and a bit uncanny valley if they’re always a slight shade off.
Start sooner than later
Please don’t put off making your brand guideline template until you need it and then end up rushing or creating something that you feel doesn’t suit your visual identity.
Take your time and search for what gets you excited and what you want your branding to stand for and mean.
Research and make mood boards from other brands that you like (don’t outright copy anyone, though, of course) and get your guidelines together with the elements like colours, themes, and tones you enjoy from others that you think sync with your branding.
Author Bio: Nicole Lyka is a writer for Rank-it.ca, a product review and comparison site that helps buyers find the best version of what they’re looking for.