5 Essentials Brand Guidelines Every Company Should Define

By: Justine

If you do any kind of marketing for your business, you’re probably aware that many businesses have a brand guidelines that they follow whenever creating any new materials.

However, if you’re like most small to mid-sized businesses we encounter, you think you’re not big enough to justify putting together such a document. You probably have few enough employees that you think everyone “gets” the brand. And yet, even if you’re not putting out complex marketing materials for a large audience, you’re likely still putting together emails, blog posts, digital ads, and other materials on a regular basis.

A brand guideline doc can help you maintain consistency over your brand, and in that way, help you project a unified front that will ultimately be a more effective marketing tool.

Your brand document doesn’t have to look like the Yellow Pages either. Here are five basics your brand guideline doc should cover:

1. Your Company Mission 

While this mission won’t be explicitly mentioned in everything you crate, it forms the basis for your marketing materials and having it here helps your staff keep it in mind as they create any materials for you.

Inspiration: NASA’s mission statement

2. Your Company Logo

Yes, something as simple as your company logo should get a mention in your brand guidelines. Your logo is the simplest way to communicate your brand visually, and you need some simple rules for how it should appear. For example, what version of your logo should be used in color materials vs. black and white materials? Do you have different versions of your logo in a traditional, square-ish layout but also in a horizontal layout that works well on letterheads?

Inspiration: Barnes & Noble’s logo Do’s and Don’ts 

3. Your brand colors 

To convey a consistent image, you’ll need to use a consistent color scheme in your materials. Your brand palette can help your employees choose colors that work with everything. By pre-defining these choices you can actually save your staff time, because all they have to do is choose one of the approved colors swatches and everything ends up looking put-together like magic.

Inspiration: Walmart’s color palette instructions

4. Your brand fonts 

To convey a strong brand presence, you should use the same 2-4 fonts consistently in all your materials. These should be the same fonts that you use on your website. To start, pick out a sans serif font (works well for headlines), a serif font (works well for longer text), and then something unconventional to use for highlighting copy, such as a bold or cursive font.

Inspiration: Bentley’s typography guidelines

5. Your brand imagery 

Images are such a crucial part of how your website and your marketing materials are perceived by your audience that you should have some pretty specific guidelines for how to select images that jive well with your brand. Some things to specify are colors, darkness/lightness, preferred orientation, layout on web and in print, and rules for adding text overlays. Finally and most importantly, you should discuss subject matter—what things to select for that will make the image immediately interlinked with your brand identity. Remember to use examples of do’s and don’ts, which might be more clear than just expressing your ideas in words.

Inspiration: Gucci’s visual identity rules

See? A brand guidelines document doesn’t have to a big, unwieldy document that everyone dreads using. Simply defining these five aspects of your brand can help to solidify your image to the world, help to save your employees valuable time, and ensure consistency.

If you need some help in creating guidelines like the above, we’re happy to help! Get in touch with us now to get started!