How to create brilliant brand guidelines

The keys to creating effective brand guidelines.
6 minutes

There are many things that are fundamental for a successful company beyond throwing the amazing teambuilding events that we love so much. Brand identity is one of them and is also unfortunately one of the most overlooked areas. 

In this post, we’ll explain how to create effective brand guidelines without tearing your (or anyone else’s) hair out. Read on!

What are brand guidelines?

Before we go any further, let’s address the fact that some of you may be sitting there wondering   ‘What in the world are brand guidelines?’.

It’s the visual bible, a document that gathers all the guidelines needed to maintain the visual identity of your company. This guide or manual covers everything from graphic elements to steps on how to apply them visually. 

Brand guidelines are part of the style guide, the Genesis of the brand, where the basic aspects of a brand are collected and defined at a visual and textual level. But that’s another story, which we’ve covered before. Check it out if you want to know more!


How to create a style guide that makes your brand stand out

If after reading the introduction of this post on why your brand needs a style guide, you still think it’s not a priority, then you can forget this post and continue creating content just as you did before.

First of all: this visual identity must have a foundation, and a purpose, and must be based on the values and vision of the company to ensure that we’re taking the right steps to maintain visual consistency in all our communication.

Second, there are a number of basic elements that MUST be included in any brand guidelines worth their salt: 

  1. Logo: Not only the company’s logo but also all its current different versions and allowed sizes, as well as the rules for its use in the different brand assets. 
Logo- Manual de identidad corporativa de Genially
📷 Genially: Brand guidelines

2. Corporate colors: The primary and secondary color palettes that represent the brand can’t be left out of the brand guidelines. Nor can color formulas (Pantone codes or RGB/CMYK values) ensure quality in digital and print media.

Corporate colours- Genially: Brand guidelines
📷 Genially: Brand guidelines

3. Fonts: A must in any style guide. The specific fonts that can be used on all company materials should always be listed. 

Fonts- Genially: Brand guidelines
📷 Genially: Brand guidelines

4. Graphic elements: Any graphic, icon, or element that is part of the brand’s visual identity must feature in the guide.

Graphic elements- Genially Brand guidelines
📷 Genially: Brand guidelines

5. Visual universe: Will your brand use photos or illustrations?In what style? When and how should the images be processed – filters, colors, etc.? Visual communication is essential and the guide should have a section dedicated to this type of information. 

Brand guidelines-Founders
📷 Genially: Brand guidelines-Founders

The importance of brand guidelines: A 4-bullet list

We’d love to be able to distill it all down to one reason, but there are SO many reasons why it is essential to have brand guidelines. We’ve whittled it down to 4, just for you.

  1. It makes your brand image stronger and more consistent: The brand guidelines or brand identity manual is at the heart of your brand image and provides specific guidelines that ensure that all visual and communicative elements of the brand are used consistently across all applications. If you don’t have a document that outlines the visual style, you’ll have a real mess on your hands.
  1. It helps engrave your brand in the public’s mind: If the brand image changes every month it’s very difficult for it to stick in your audience’s mind, but if you use standardized criteria you can make sure they don’t forget it, just like the Triple Dent Gum song in ‘Inside Out’. It also demonstrates that the company takes its brand seriously and strives to present a consistent, quality image. This can positively influence customers’ and business partners’ perception of the brand.
  1. It simplifies and facilitates work processes in the design team: By making the visual standards to be met very clear, the whole team will know exactly which designs and elements to use. This is especially important in companies with multiple departments or teams working on different types of marketing and communication projects.
  1. They’re like a chameleon; they adapt to different media. They also include guidelines for adapting the brand to different media and formats – be it print, digital media, mobile applications, social media, etc. This ensures that the brand is effectively presented on all channels.

Creating brand guidelines: Step by step

Whitney Houston recommended taking life step by step and we recommend the same for creating brand guidelines. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Include the values and philosophy of your brand: Explain what represents your brand, what value distinguishes it, and which audience it is aimed at, but condense this into one or two paragraphs. 
  2. Define the voice of your brand: You probably want the voice of Morgan Freeman to be the tone of voice in your style guide, but that’s not what we mean. The voice of your brand is the way in which the text conveys the essence or personality. This requires an analysis of what your customers are looking for. Psst, why not do this with a survey?
  3. Establish the uses of the logo: It’s important to include instructions for how to use it on backgrounds as well as the different allowed versions. It is also a good idea to give examples of how not to use it. You’ll save time and save future you several headaches.
  4. Provide the fonts: And yes, this includes the font family, size, and color. Define the hierarchy, the sizes for the different parts of the text, and when to use bold or italics.  
  5. Talk about colors: Did you know that color is one of the most important elements in brand identity? Yep, it makes it 80% more recognizable. Include the main, secondary, and background colors. Ah, and keep colorimetry in mind, and don’t forget the Pantone, CMYK, RGB, and web codes, as well as the gradients.
  6. Stipulate how the images and photographs will be used: Get a little poetic and explain the essence of the photographs to be used. Indicate their characteristics, energy, and personality, in addition to size, of course. Pro tip: Include a section with links to image banks, as well as legal and copyright info. 

Have you created your brand guidelines? Got any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Marina López

Writing works as a fight against chaos. Virginie Despentes

Marina López
Marina López
Writing works as a fight against chaos. Virginie Despentes

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