Everything You Need to Know About Brand Guidelines (with examples!)

Brand guidelines detail your business’s values, voice, and visual identity. Here, we cover the basics of making a brand guide and examples of guides we love!

Your brand guidelines are like the rulebook that communicates your business’s brand. Together, they form your comprehensive brand guide. The best brand guidelines serve as guardrails, keeping your designs cohesive across web pages, print material, social media posts, and all things visual. But brand guidelines go beyond the visuals. Your guide also proudly declares your business’s mission and vision, communicates your unshakable core values, and paints a relevant, resonating story your audience can’t help but connect with.

Do you see the power (and importance!) of well-thought-out brand guidelines? It creates cohesion, keeps every element of your business aligned, and gives your entire team a playbook to inform their creativity.

Tip: You may also hear brand guidelines being called a Brand Kit, Style Guide, Brand Book, Brand Manual, or Brand Resource. These are simply different words for the same tool!

Brand guidelines typically include:

Brand Strategy:

  • Your mission
  • Your vision
  • The core values of your brand
  • Your brand’s story

Visual Identity:

  • Your logo
  • Typography (fonts)
  • Your color palette
  • A photography style (mood board)

Messaging:

  • A quick tagline that communicates your brand

These key elements come together in a digital, easily shareable guide you can distribute to your employees, contractors, and anyone who creates something that represents your brand. Once you’ve got a brand guide in place, stick to it!

Who needs brand guidelines?

Any business, of any size and industry, who wants to build brand loyalty. So…. everyone! Whether your business is brand new or has been in the family for decades, it will benefit from brand guidelines. Why? Because customers need consistency. We encounter thousands of advertisements every single day. The ones we remember are the ones we see and hear over, and over, and over. Strong brand guidelines ensure everything your business creates, including text and design, follows one common narrative. That familiarity and recognizability allows for powerful (and profitable) brand loyalty.

Brand guidelines we love

Audi car company

audi brand guidelines

We love Audi’s ultra-detailed brand guidelines. The guide breaks down the look, feel, and sound of Audi in every place you could possibly find the brand: in print, in film, in dealerships, at car shows, and at corporate headquarters. They even include a track of the company’s official sound! They leave nothing up to chance.

This guide is an excellent example of an easily accessible, quickly-searchable resource. No scrolling through a giant PDF to find just the section you need. Users can toggle through tabs or use the search feature to jump straight to the relevant section. The guide is encompassing, clear, and digital-friendly.

Uber ride-hailing service

Uber Brand Guidelines

Have you seen Uber’s brand guidelines? The Tone of Voice page is one of the most helpful brand guide sections we’ve seen. It includes before and after examples showcasing how to put their unique brand tone into action. Below the helpful examples, Uber includes over a dozen “do’s and don'ts” to keep in mind when writing and editing. These simple, easily-actionable writing tips, available right on the Tone of Voice page, help streamline your writer’s production. No digging through extra resources. Everything they need is in one concise list!

Overall, this brand guide is a 10/10 in terms of detail. Its comprehensive tips for writing in the voice of Uber, detailed imagery section, and clear navigation make it obvious why Uber is an instantly recognizable brand!

ZeBrand branding platform

ZeBrand Brand Guidelines

We couldn’t leave the brand guidelines example section without sharing our own story! ZeBrand’s guidelines is simple, straightforward, and easy-to-navigate. We include each of the three main branding sections (strategy, visuals, and messaging) in one long-scroll page. Our team doesn’t have to click through multiple sections to find the best practices they need.

In the Visual Identity section, ZeBrand’s brand guidelines remind our team of how to use our logo. Changing the graphics, adding colors or effects, and changing the logo shape are all considered logo misuse, and helpful visual examples accompany each best practice tip.

How to create your own brand guidelines

You can write your own brand guidelines by gathering your visual assets, messaging, and brand strategy. Each of these elements can be added to a Google Doc or web page for quick access by your team, stakeholders, and creators.

However, putting together your own brand guide is particularly challenging. You’re so close to your business that it’s difficult to maintain the outside perspective needed to develop a clear, compelling guide. What may resonate with you (because the brand is personal to you) could be off-putting to your audience.

One of the best decisions you can make for your brand is hiring an outside agency to build the design, structure, and strategy. You can have significant input at every step of the process, but having an additional perspective from step one is invaluable.

At ZeBrand, we also offer a simple brand guidelines builder you can use during your 7 day free trial. The builder is straightforward, offers automatic design suggestions, and is easily shareable with your team.

So you’ve got a brand guide, now what?

If you’re an existing business making a brand guidelines for the first time, use your new guide to get all your current assets in line. Make sure your website, social media, print materials, and internal documents all follow your updated look, feel, and sound. It’s helpful to gather the key leaders of your business and go over your new branding together. When they understand the value and purpose of your guidelines, they’re more invested in your brand.

If your brand guide is guiding a new business, it should be the foundation for everything you create from here on out. Use your guidelines to develop your new hire onboarding, both the look of your training materials and the values you impart to every new team member. All internal and client-facing documents you create, from proposals and memos to pitch decks and sales letters, should closely follow your guide. Give a copy of your rulebook to your web designer, marketing team, and anyone else who creates for your business. And if you’re filling all those roles yourself, keep this guide front and center!

Brand guidelines are crucial. But you don’t have to create them alone!

Brand guidelines are incredibly important because they describe your business’s messaging, look, and overall experience. Your guidelines tell every member of your team how to put your business’s best foot forward— in copy, content, and design.

You don’t have to build this critical guide alone! The professional Brand Coaches here at ZeBrand can help you build a guide that grows with you, resonates with your audience, and inspires your stakeholders. Get started here.