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Mar 6, 2023 | 3 min read

How to Create Brand Guidelines for a Brand

Many people consider branding to be a visual identity bestowed upon a company to promote its products and services. While this definition was valid until recently, branding has now expanded to encompass much more. Today, branding encircles not only the visual identity of a product, including its name, logo, packaging, design, and other visual elements but also a broader scope of activities.

Branding is essential because it creates a memorable impression on customers and sets expectations for your products. It also enables a company to distinguish itself from its competitors and clarifies what it offers. When you build a brand, you represent your business, values, vision, and communicate to the world how you want to be perceived.

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In modern times, building a brand involves much more than just visual identity. Factors such as reputation, advertising, customer service, visual appeal, and social responsibility are all important. All of these elements work together to create a unique and attention-grabbing brand profile. A strong brand identity is critical for success in today's highly competitive business environment.

Importance of Creating a Brand Identity

A brand identity is much more than the sum of its visual components such as logo, color palette, or signature pattern. Instead, it is a holistic approach that incorporates all these elements and more to create a cohesive image, identity, and experience for the brand. Building a strong brand identity not only strengthens a company's market presence but also enhances its relationships with customers and employees. Moreover, the consistent implementation of a brand's identity shapes the audience's perceptions of the brand.

Consistency in presenting a brand is essential as it increases its visibility and recognition among the target audience. To achieve consistency and better brand visibility, developing brand identity guidelines is critical.

What are Brand Identity Guidelines?

Brand identity guidelines are tools to help establish consistency in a brand’s implementation across all touchpoints. These are important for anyone touching the brand to be able to represent it properly and not devalue its image.

The goal of creating brand identity guidelines is to protect its integrity. Companies spend a lot of money in creating various brand elements, which makes it crucial for them to create guidelines elaborating on how those elements must be used.

These guidelines outline the dos and don'ts of using the brand's visual elements, tone of voice, messaging, and other critical elements to ensure consistency and coherence across all brand touchpoints. A comprehensive and well-executed brand identity strategy can significantly enhance a company's reputation and profitability.

How to Create Brand Identity Guidelines for a Brand?

We have discussed why creating identity guidelines is crucial for a brand. We shall now walk through a few steps explaining how to create brand identity guidelines:

For example, you can ask a riddle or their opinion. You can even purposely showcase a wrong fact that will compel viewers to post the right fact in the comments section. You can ask in your videos the names of certain exotic fruits or vegetables. You can even ask their opinion on a certain trending issue.

  • Define the Brand Identity

The first step in creating brand identity guidelines is to define the brand identity. This involves understanding the brand's purpose, values, personality, and target audience. A brand's purpose is the reason for its existence and what it aims to achieve. The brand's values are the principles that guide its behavior and decision-making. The brand personality is the set of human characteristics that the brand embodies, and the target audience is the group of people that the brand is trying to reach.

To define the brand identity, consider the following questions:

  • What is the brand's purpose?
  • What are the brand's core values?
  • What is the brand's personality?
  • Who is the target audience?

Once you have determined and defined your brand’s identity, you need to set up a goal.

  • Set up a Goal

Next, you need to establish a set of specific objectives that are tailored to the unique challenges posed by various industries, target audiences, and geographic regions. While it is essential for all businesses to have guidelines in place to ensure brand consistency and protection, the specific goals that underpin these guidelines must be customized to meet the distinctive requirements of each organization.

For example, one goal for brand guidelines can be to help the team represent the brand better among various target audiences. If your brand guidelines have this set goal, they can work towards equipping themselves with the tools or information they will need to represent your brand better.

  • Define your Users

Several people interact with and promote your brand every day. People working for your brand or with your brand should be given a set of pre-defined identity guidelines to be able to represent your brand in the right way. Employees, partners, and agencies are your brand’s users who should know about the ways they should or should not represent your brand both, inside and outside work.

For example, the brand’s users should know how to represent the brand’s identity to target buyers, maintain the voice and tone, and convey the key values and mission of the brand. These details should be explained in the brand’s identity guidelines.

  • Lay a Format

Choose the brand’s identity guidelines format. Decide whether you want to make the brand’s identity guidelines available online or not. Some brands publish these guidelines on their website, while some choose to have them in print only. Publishing them digitally can enable your users to navigate through the guidelines easily.

For example, The University of Buffalo’s brand guide is available online and is quite comprehensive and easy to understand. Ensure that your format is clearly defined, accurate, and up-to-date.

  • Determine the Contents of the Guidelines

The various elements included in a brand’s identity guidelines are mostly; the brand mission, vision, key messages, brand values, and visual identity. While the mission, vision, and values define what your brand is all about, visual identity includes the brand’s logo usage guidelines, color palette, iconography, graphic styles, typography guidelines, photography guidelines, and template guidelines. Identity guidelines should clearly communicate with the users how to visually represent your brand to the audiences.

To determine the brand messaging , consider the following questions:

  • What should the tone of voice be?
  • What are the brand's messaging pillars? values?
  • What are the key messages that What are the key messages that the brand wants to communicate?

When developing messaging, it's important to consider how it aligns with the brand identity. For example, if the brand's personality is serious and professional, the messaging should reflect that.

To determine the visual identity, consider the following questions:

  • What should the logo look like?
  • What typography should be used?
  • What colors should be used?
  • What types of imagery should be used?
  • What other visual elements should be used?

When selecting visual elements , it's important to consider how they align with the brand identity. For example, if the brand's personality is playful and lighthearted, the visual elements should reflect that.

  • Define Specific Usage Rules

To preserve the integrity of your brand, it is important to incorporate certain "don'ts" in your brand identity guidelines, particularly when it comes to your logo and color palette. These may include refraining from altering the colors or utilizing them in specific ways, avoiding the use of semi-transparent logos, and abstaining from rotating or manipulating the scale of the logo. Furthermore, Clear messaging guidelines within your brand identity guidelines are crucial to ensure that the way you talk about your brand is consistent and accurate. Depending on your industry or company, there may be specific language requirements or preferences that dictate what can and cannot be said about your brand. By establishing clear usage rules, you can avoid misrepresentation of your brand and maintain consistency, which in turn builds trust, drives sales, and ultimately increases your bottom line. For example, the Facebook logo is consistently represented in the signature blue color and the font of ‘f’ is also constant.

  • Gather and Assemble all the Identity Elements

Creating a comprehensive guide for a brand's identity involves collating and synthesizing all necessary information into a cohesive whole. It's crucial to use concise language and ensure that the tone aligns with the brand's overall voice and messaging. To maintain the longevity of the guidelines, a process should be established for regularly reviewing and updating them to keep up with the evolving brand identity and changing trends. When choosing a format, consider accessibility and usability for brand users, whether in a digital or printed document. Whatever format is chosen, make sure there is room for future

  • Conduct Brand Training and Distribute the Guidelines

It is also essential to train your brand’s users about your identity guidelines and only handing them your guide is not enough. Conduct a training session to help them understand the importance of consistency and to reinforce the importance of adhering to the guidelines strictly. Brand training should take place on a regular basis, especially for new members. This helps to ensure that every member of the employee team and the partners are well-versed with the updated brand guidelines.

Finally, distribute the guide to all the users, including the brand’s employee team, partners, and agencies, and also upload it online on the official website for the target audiences.

Creating brand identity guidelines is a critical step in establishing and maintaining a consistent and recognizable brand image. These guidelines serve as a reference for brand users, outlining the visual and messaging elements that represent the brand. A well-crafted set of brand identity guidelines will help to ensure that all brand touchpoints, including marketing materials, packaging, and digital platforms, communicate a cohesive brand identity.

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