What is a Brand Guide and Why Do You Need It?
What is a brand guide or style guide?
If you are wondering what a brand guide or style guide is, look no further. Not only will I break it down for you but I will share why it matters, why you need one, and what it should contain!
What is a brand guide?
A brand guide is a document put together at the end of a branding project that documents all the assets of the brand, all the findings, and shares how to and how not to use the assets provided. Think of this as your user manual for all those great fonts and logo designs your brand designer just sent over. Brand guides can be small and only a few pages or they can be massive. It honestly depends on the size of your company. The bigger the company, the more cooks in the kitchen, the higher the need for a detailed and fool-proof document. Smaller companies with a small and mighty design team or consistent relationship with the same brand designer can get by with a smaller brand guide.
Why does a brand guide matter?
Brand guides help a company retain brand consistency. Brand consistency is crucial in building and maintaining trust with your audience! Plus having your brand document is an easy way to share your vision with your team and investors. It puts everything in one place!
Why do you need a brand guide?
While the designer who created your logo might know instinctively how to use it and how not to use it, it’s unfair to assume the rest of the world will know what to do with it. All of a sudden your logo is being used in different colors, being tweaked, skewed, or changed because someone thought it might look better in a different font. Then, before you know it, you have lost all credibility. The brand guide will prevent that from happening! I will give your employees and creative vendors lines to color in if you will. You should be able to pass off your brand guide to your mobile app team, web design team, or a print vendor. In turn, they should be able to produce something for you that is “on brand”. You can also use the guide to cross reference their work and make sure it all feels right and is being applied properly.
The brand guide is most useful when companies are in a growth mode and working with outside vendors on assets. The last thing you want is different design teams interpreting your brand through their eyes. It’s your job to tell them what your brand is and show them how it should look, feel, and sound.
What should your brand guide contain?
At the very minimum your brand guide should contain all the various logo layouts or lock ups your brand designer or branding agency has provided. How to and how not use the logos, colors used with the HEX and CMYK codes (these are different color codes for print and web, trust us, you want both!). Typefaces and fonts used, photography styling (we will provide stock references if the client doesn’t have original photography yet). Any brand assets like graphic elements used and lastly any print or digital work that shows the assets all in use. It’s great for people to see how they all work together.
If you have a more detailed brand guide or have worked with a brand designer / strategist, your brand guide should also contain some key findings from your strategy sessions. Such as a target demographic and brand vibe words to help paint the picture. We also love to include brand personality sliders and brand archetypes in our guides!
Don’t have a brand guide?
It’s not too late! You can always hire a brand designer to come in and clean up your branding and document everything for you! We have actually done this practice for a few clients and it’s been very helpful getting on the right path and keeping them there!
Take a look at Prop House Plant’s branding to get more insight!