A Comprehensive Branding Guide for Business
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A branding guide is a critical business document that gives an overview of how a brand comes to life. It outlines the use of a brand’s visual design elements and also covers the core values and principles that are fundamental to a brand.
Essentially, the branding guide serves as a rule book. It tells you what to do, what not to, and brings all the stakeholders of a brand to a single point of reference. It handles your brand’s representation, perception, and communication consistently and confidently.
Creating a branding guide is easy if you have clarity of thought of what your brand is all about. It covers 6 critical components that are easy to describe, display, and explain if you know what you are doing.
To make it easy for you, we are sharing a general format of a branding guide. It will help you understand what a branding guide is, how to cover its various aspects, and what goes into making it a great reference book.
The Functions of a Branding Guide
If you don’t have a branding guide, you have no control over how other people choose to understand or interpret your brand. A branding guide gives you control over narrating your brand story.
A solid branding guide protects and elevates your brand in three substantial ways:
The most important role of a branding book. It gives a single point of reference to everyone who has anything to do with communicating, marketing, or designing your brand. When everyone knows the brand philosophy, its central vibe, and how to present it, very little room for error remains.
Gives you control
It allows you to choose words, feelings, and emotions that people associate with your brand. You take charge and present your brand to the public on your terms, in your language, and with your interpretations.
Improves your communications
When everyone knows what your brand is and how to present it, communications become clearer and more confident. Instead of everyone doing things a little differently, everyone comes on the same page to communicate a single, solid, and streamlined brand message.
Components of a Branding Guide
A branding guide is an evolving document that remains flexible and dynamic. As your brand grows and its canvas widens, this guide can be revisited to add more details, remove what doesn’t apply anymore, and streamline what’s already working.
Simply put, your branding guide can be as concise or as in-depth as you want (or preferably, as your brand requires). As the needs of your brand grow and its image evolves, you can choose to alter the length and depth of your branding guide.
1. Your Brand Story
How your brand came to be? What was the Eureka! moment? What do you hope to accomplish with your brand, and how does it serve your target buyer?
Some brands choose to skip this part. But since your brand is still in its infancy, we recommend keeping this section in the document as it outlines the philosophy, vision, and values of your brand. It helps everyone understand the context a little better.
This section contains three important parts: mission, vision, and core values. If you choose, you can also outline points that explain your brand personality, share who your target audience is, and core brand promise.
This addresses the future of your company. Where do you see it heading, what do you hope to achieve with it, and what are your objectives. Use clear language to write a simple statement of your brand vision and help people understand what you are all about.
This is all about the present. Outline the purpose and goals of your brand. Describe the steps you are taking to accomplish your goals.
This is all about principles. What do you stand for? What do you hold dear? What are the values that symbolize your brand identity? Use verbs and adjectives. Be sincere, reflective, and authentic. This is the portion that will help you establish your brand tone and other parts of its visual identity. This is where you build connections with your audience.
2. A Consistent Signature
Your brand signature is your logo. It is the visual identity of your brand and carries its core message. Ensuring consistency in its use is essential. Even slight changes in how a logo is displayed, sized, or aligned can create confusion in people’s minds and render your logo almost useless when it comes to brand recall.
Therefore, dedicate a sizable chunk of your branding guide explaining how you want your logo to be displayed and reproduced across multiple channels. Using visual examples outline the correct size, spacing, color, alignment, and layout. Cover all bases to make sure that there is no room for any logo design mistake whatsoever.
Medium’s branding guide is a great example to follow. It showcases the logo and also uses expressive words to announce the personality of the brand.
Here are a few aspects of the logo design that you must address in the brand guide.
This is your main logo. The grid helps clarify the spacing and the sizing of the logo. If you want to keep your logo reproduction error-free, showcase it on the grid.
There will be times when you will need to use only the mark (shape/symbol) and not the whole logo. Favicons and app icons are the places that don’t support large logos. Therefore, create your logo mark and specify its uses.
Make sure to include all the variations of the logo that you think you might need. These variations can be based on colors, size, style, and background space. Display all the variations and attach a list of dos and don’ts with each.