9 Things Your Brand Guidelines Should Include
Logo and Variations
One of the first assets shown in your brand guidelines should be your logo. A logo shouldn't be chosen for your brand because of its fresh design or pretty colors. Your logo should be the first asset that describes your brand's personality and your business’s story. Once you have created your logo, under your logo section in your guideline, you can include logo variations. The logo section is an excellent opportunity to show all the ways your logo is and can be used publicly. You can show your logo in monochrome or the reverse of your brand’s primary colors. Logos should mainly exist in their primary colors, but that won't always be the case. Show it on a black background or the logo in all black. If your logo is designed well, there won't be any issues showing your logo in the many variations while maintaining its legibility. Logo spacing is another important aspect of your logo to display in your brand guidelines. The space around your logo, or padding, can be as valuable as the logo itself. Here are some staff picks on our favorite logos.
Take the time to document your brand's font or typography in full. This section should include the formatting and font treatments for your brand’s Headlines, Sublines, Body Text, and even Captions. Include other aspects for your team like a download link to access the font family, where the fonts should be used if there are multiple font-families, and the sizes they should be used concerning each unique use case.
Brands all have primary and secondary colors. Many, if not all, use a grey palette, as well. The primary colors are the colors typically found in your logo design along with black that is used for your primary text color. The secondary colors sometimes referred to colors used as indication colors, and/or to add depth to your palette and can be used across your different marketing platforms, like advertising.
Visuals (i.e. Photos and Illustrations)
Brand imagery is typically referring to the representational images and visual assets that shows and represent to the public with the visual identity of your brand. However, brand imagery can also work to the other senses, too. Imagery can give a more concrete, objective feel on how the brand presents itself to the world. This section is particularly helpful to any illustrators or photographers working for your brand’s image and presentation. Through these visuals, the storytelling of your brand really becomes most impactful.
Stationery typically includes business cards and letterheads, but can also include things like mailing labels and custom-designed envelopes. These documents can be ideal tools for new employees. You can use your brand guideline as a reference to create new stationery assets. Stationery can often be the first impression your business has on potential customers. Stationery can be used for trade show events, but most importantly, once you've left a client meeting, your stationery does the talking for you.
Some brands can confuse their mission with their vision. A vision statement focuses on 'tomorrow' and what the brand hopes it’s greater impact and accomplishments will be. A mission statement focuses on the 'today' and how your business plans on achieving that. Your mission statement drives your business and describes the 'what' and 'how.' The core of your business shapes your business' culture. A solid mission statement will trickle through the company to motivate your business's team.
Your brand's story builds your business into something potential customers can care about and want to buy into and be apart of. The brand story is the 'why.' Why did you start your business? Why does it exist? Why you're setting out to change the world is the part of the brand story that your customers need to learn and understand so they have the opportunity to make an emotional connection with your brand’s story.
Tone of Voice
Your brand's tone of voice reflects your business's personality to help you connect with your potential customers. Your brand's Tone of Voice can be made of two elements: what your brand sounds like and what your brand wants to sound like. The tone of voice can be any of four dimensions: Formal vs. Causal, Funny vs. Serious, Respectful vs. Irreverent, Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact. (**SPOILER ALERT** casual Conversation typically performs best.) You can refine your brand's tone of Voice with more specific characteristics as your company and your brand matures.
Downloadable Assets (i.e. Graphics, Images, Documents)
Your brand guideline should include a full library of all your assets. These assets should be downloadable for customers to look into your brand a little deeper and for employees and designers currently working for your brand.
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