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If you want to build a brand that your audience instantly recognizes, ensuring your visual brand remains consistent across the board is an essential step. This can be easy to do with brand guidelines.
Having a style guide for your team to reference anytime they create public-facing visuals – billboards, online ads, webpages, webinars, infographics and more – helps build a brand identity people remember.
But building brand guidelines that are easy to follow for all members of your team can seem like an overwhelming task.
To help simplify the process, we’ve put together this guide on how to create brand guidelines as well as showcase several examples and templates that can inspire you to get started.
Let’s dive in.
Brand guidelines, or a brand style guide, are a documentation of your branding specifications, from the exact colors to use, specific fonts and weights, as well as the ways your logo can and cannot be used.
These can come in a variety of formats, from a multi-page document to an infographic or a presentation, all depending on what’s easiest for those utilizing your branding to keep on hand.
Because brand standardization is essential to improve brand strength and recognition, ensuring the people on your team in charge of creating visual content know how to use your branding is a must.
Whether it’s getting the specific hex code for your brand colors right or knowing when and where to use certain fonts, brand guidelines contain a lot of very particular information.
Fonts used in headings are vastly different from fonts used in body copy, and mixing those up can create an entirely different look and feel.
Your brand guidelines might even have information about the amount of space that needs to surround your logo for appropriate use as well as the various colors that are allowed to be used as background colors, as you see below.
Because it takes a lot for a new brand to become commonplace and recognizable, following every bit of instruction is key for a successful brand.
Ready to create your own set of brand guidelines? We have a quick three-step process to help you put together the perfect brand manual for your team, affiliates and even customers to take advantage of.
Before you can begin putting your brand on paper, you need to come over with an overall brand strategy. This branding project includes things like your mission statement, messaging, logo, colors and more.
Developing a strong brand identity is the first step in building brand strength and recognition. What catches your audience’s eye? Think about your industry and what could help your brand to stand out from the rest.
Once you’ve determined each essential part of your brand, you’re able to move onto step two.
You want your brand guidelines to be as easy for your team to browse through and understand as possible so they can ensure brand consistency across the board.
Using a professionally designed template and simply inserting your own brand elements into the placeholder elements can be a great way to make creating your own branding guidelines quick and painless.
Check out a few of our brand guidelines templates here, or scroll down to the bottom of the post to get a better look at a few templates that might work perfectly for your brand.
There are a variety of different design elements that are must-haves in your brand identity guidelines. We walk through them below so that you don’t miss a single piece.
The first page or section of your brand guidelines – unless you include a table of contents to make navigation easier – should have a mission statement, vision statement, story or other type of motivational statement about your brand.
Why does your brand exist? What is its mission? What are you trying to do or achieve for your customer? What is your brand story?
Put all of this in a single sentence or paragraph and include it at the beginning of your brand book.
The next section should include your logo and specifics about the ways that it is and isn’t allowed to be used.
Branding requires a lot of specific information. A few things you might want to include are:
You need to ensure that your logo is always used properly so that when people see it, they instantly are reminded of your brand.
Additionally, you probably spent a lot of time and/or money developing your logo design, and you want it to be handled in a visually appealing way.
Being specific about your logo ensures no one on your marketing team will mishandle your logo and put out marketing materials that don’t represent your visual identity.
After your logo, you want to cover your brand’s particular fonts chosen and what each one of them is used for.
Showcase your the typeface you’re using for headings versus body copy, what size it needs to be, weight, spacing and more.
Include the fonts you’ve set for your logo and tagline as well so that each person on your team knows how to recreate each piece if necessary.
Your next page is all about colors. Go back to that color palette you put together while developing your brand identity and pull it all together for your brand guide.
Here, you want to include samples of each color included in your palette and differentiate between your primary color(s) and your secondary color(s).
It’s also a good idea to include hex, CMYK and RGB codes for each of your colors so no matter who is using them and for what purpose, they’ll get the exact same color every time.
In addition to fonts and colors, one of the brand assets that many companies use is a specific pattern.
Patterns help make designing branded documents, social media graphics, marketing materials, presentations and more easy for everyone. They give you a starting point as well as ensure your visual content is always cohesive.
These can be created using a tool like Adobe Illustrator, but you can also create patterns in Visme and save them as content blocks that can be pulled into designs again and again.
Another good section to include within your brand guidelines is an area with acceptable and unacceptable usage of your branding.
Share specifics on how your logos can be used, how your fonts and colors can and can’t be mixed, where your patterns should be placed on a design canvas and more. Include any other brand uses that might be necessary.
One last section that’s a great idea to include within your brand style book showcases examples of branded materials. This could be business cards, invoices, letterheads and more.
In case multiple people over time end up creating these different visual elements for your brand, it’s a good idea to provide a reference point.
Find the perfect template for your brand guidelines!
Now that you know what to include in your brand guidelines, let’s take a look at some examples by big businesses.
While one of our templates can certainly help you get on your way, understanding how other companies create and share their brand guidelines is a great way to gather inspiration.
Netflix’s brand website showcases their “iconic wordmark” (their words), colors, logo spacing and ways that their logo is not allowed to be used.
Since many shows and movies will advertise that it can be viewed on Netflix, the company wants to ensure their branding is used properly no matter which site someone views it on.
Spotify’s brand guidelines include ways that their colors can and can’t be used. They also share do’s and don’ts for sharing album art and for placing widgets on your website.
Asana is very specific about the ways its logo is allowed to be used with various colors. It includes an extensive list of logo don’ts, from changing colors to switching up the three dots in their insignia.
As NASA is a well-known government agency, they’re extremely specific about how their brand is allowed to be used.
That’s why you’ll find a 51-page brand guidelines PDF from NASA, outlining exactly what their logo, colors and fonts are and how they should be used.
Skype’s brand guidelines offer very specific ways to use their logo, icon and even their brand name.
For example, did you know that you’re not supposed to use the brand name “Skype” as a verb? They have very specific rules surrounding that. Instead of saying, “Let’s Skype,” the proper way to use their name is, “Let’s have a call on Skype.”
Not only is Amazon very strict about the usage of their logo, but they also offer guidelines for co-branding, like when a product is sold on Amazon.
Even though a brand may use Amazon as its marketplace, the company still doesn’t want its name or likeness to be used in that brand’s advertising. They share examples of acceptable and unacceptable usage in their guidelines.
Facebook dedicates an entire website to their brand guidelines and all of their subsidiaries.
You can find guidelines for the Facebook company, the Facebook app, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Workplace all in one easy-to-access area.
In Uber’s brand guidelines, they share their main color scheme and fonts, but they also include a selection of secondary colors that you might not have even known the company used.
With a sleek black and white primary color scheme, Uber’s secondary color palette allows them to be a bit more adventurous in some of their branding and advertising.
When Cisco had their brand guidelines and identity created, they had an entire font designed just for them. It’s called Cisco Sans.
Many major brands often have fonts created specifically for their logos so that they can be completely unique.
If you have access to a professional designer who specializes in fonts and typefaces, this could be a great way to stand out from the crowd.
A company like Slack, with so many colors in their logo, has to be a bit strict when it comes to how their logo can appear.
In order to ensure brand recognition, Slack has to provide a variety of unacceptable uses for their logo and its color scheme in their brand guidelines.
Zoom includes more than just their logo, fonts and colors in their brand guidelines.
They also showcase the proper way their buttons and icons should look on their website and branded materials so it’s easy for anyone who needs to access it to have that information.
Not surprisingly, Notion created a Notion board to host their brand guidelines. This showcases their logo, wordmark, typography, branded illustrations and more.
Starbucks is a great example of brand recognition, having completely revamped their logo several years back to remove their brand name from it because the siren itself was so iconic.
However, they still put together a great brand guidelines handbook so that anyone who needs to know how the brand should be represented can do so accurately.
Venmo’s brand guidelines display their logo, colors, fonts and more, but they have also included high resolution download files for their logo.
This is a great idea to ensure that anyone who needs to use their logo has access to both a high resolution version and an editable version for adding into other graphics and marketing materials.
One thing that really matters in a lot of logos but that many people don’t realize is the sizing and proportion.
Think about it – when you see YouTube’s logo, the icon and wordmark are always the same proportions. Otherwise it looks just a little bit off.
This is why YouTube has included specifics about the sizing that’s required of its logo, as well as various ways the icon cannot be displayed in accordance with their guidelines.
Zapier has a unique way of displaying their brand guidelines. You can view them on a website, with an easy-to-use navigation in the left sidebar to switch between each section, whether logos, colors, fonts, etc.
Buffer is another brand that keeps a landing page specific for hosting their guidelines and brand identity information.
Notice the specified spacing required around their logo as well as the particular dimensions of the icon representing each one of their online products.
Home improvement store Lowe’s also includes a variety of acceptable logos and their download files in their brand guidelines.
Larger retailers will often do this so that smaller businesses can let customers know where to buy their products while still staying on brand across the board.
Mailchimp’s brand guidelines are a bit more fun than your typical brand assets page.
Not only do they have a wealth of background and accent colors to choose from, their font section is animated, showcasing what each letter looks like in their brand font.
Leadpages also has a navigable menu for their brand guidelines, letting users choose whether they want to learn more about the brand’s logo, fonts, colors and other brand assets.
They’ve also included a legal disclaimer about how to use this intellectual property. And there’s also a small section about their name. It’s Leadpages. Only one capital letter. I know – we all mess it up.
HubSpot’s color section is incredibly visually appealing to look at. Not only do they have a rainbow of secondary colors that they use in marketing materials and other branded assets, but they also have a set of specific greys.
While this may seem like overkill, it really helps keep every little thing on brand – something very important for a large brand that is well-known throughout the marketing and sales industry.
Last but not least, we have Hulu, with their basic yet recognizable green and black color scheme.
One unique thing about Hulu’s brand guidelines is the fact that they have their own lockup font with various keystrokes that will automatically create their various wordmarks.
This is incredibly helpful for staying on brand regardless of who is using their brand name and logo.
Now that you’ve seen 22 fantastic examples of how you can keep your team on brand, we’ve got five different brand guidelines templates to get you started.
Three of these are in document form, one is an infographic and the last is a presentation. Brand guidelines can come in many different shapes and sizes, as we’ve already seen.
The best part is that with Visme, you can create your own brand guidelines webpage by embedding one of these projects on your website or sharing the public link to your brand guidelines.
Enterprise plans can also create their own branded subdomain for sharing online content to further improve brand strength.
Our Atmoluxe document template is perfect for startups looking to standardize their branding with a basic multi-page document.
Simply update the existing brand information with your own, or utilize the existing template to help you build your own brand.
This is another multi-page document template. You can utilize this to streamline your logo, fonts and colors, as well as patterns, business assets like business cards and letterheads, and more.
Utilize the PixelGo template to keep all of your assets in line so each person on your team and under your company umbrella can create matching visuals.
The PixelGo template even includes a page for your company envelope, and you can easily add additional pages to keep other brand assets.
If you prefer a one-pager, consider using this brand guidelines infographic template to keep all of your branding information in one place.
It’s quick and easy to input your information, download and share with anyone who needs to keep this info handy.
Our last template option is a brand guidelines presentation. This is a great way to keep everything in line, but it also works perfectly for presenting a pitch for a rebrand for your own company or a client.
These templates can be used in a variety of ways based on your needs and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Now that you know exactly what needs to go inside your brand guidelines, you should be just about ready to create your own! All you need is the perfect software to help you do that.
But you’re in luck – Visme is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Sign up for a free account today to give it a try.