We are currently living in the golden age of brand identity, one that allows companies to tell the world what they’re about within a multitude of channels, including social media platforms, apps, print, and much more. With all of this opportunity, it’s incredibly important for messaging to be consistent and cohesive, a difficult chore when you stop to consider the number of communication options available today. To counteract any discrepancy in messaging, you must create a brand guide with an attached style guide for in-house use – one that clearly communicates your brand identity, values, and brand architecture, as well as outlines any brand management tools your team should be using, identifies any key brand assets (and how they should be used), and more.
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Creating an effective brand guide takes a lot of consideration, such as color palette options, typography, brand positioning statements, content messaging, and more. Of course, you know your brand better than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that all of your thoughts can be plugged into a guide willy-nilly; there are a host of factors to incorporate in the creation of an industry-standard brand guide. To help you through this process, we’ve compiled a list of 50 tips, templates, and examples for building your own, all of which are designed to inspire sleek and beautiful guides. Note: The following 50 tips and tutorials are listed alphabetically by category and source for easy reference, but they aren’t ranked or rated in any way.
Tips for Creating a Great Brand Guide
In this piece published by the firm 99Designs, we learn the basics of how to create the most cohesive brand style guides. The tips can be easily applied to all sorts of businesses, creative or otherwise. The guide is broken down into five unique categories: 1) Mission, 2) Vision, 3) Target Audience, 4) Brand Personality, and 5) Core Values. Once all categories are considered, you will then be in great shape to exhibit your brand’s message in the most distinct manner possible.
Three key tips from “How to Create a Brand Style Guide”:
- Prior to beginning, search for references and inspiration
- Be sure that your current logo reflects your message
- When in doubt, opt for a simple voice over an aspirational one
Market research firm AYTM has published a two-part post on brand identity, with the second section focusing solely on brand guide creation. Its article contains a treasure trove of time-tested tips that are designed to help identify a brand’s essence, appropriate taglines, effective color palettes, typography best practices, and even trademarking. For a primer, be sure to check out Part One in the series.
Three key tips from “Developing Brand Identity Guidelines–Part 2: What’s in a Brand Identity Manual?”:
- For logos, legibility should be the main focus
- All imagery used should only be chosen based on the promises you can deliver to your customers
- Create additional templates for business cards, stationery, co-branded advertising, etc.
In this simple guide written by creative services and branding guru, Bluetext, we get a short, but comprehensive take on designing brand and style guides from the ground up. Bluetext outlines the common pitfalls associated with guide creation and provides tips that are designed to help teams stay true to their best practices from the very start.
Three key tips from “A Top Brand Agency’s Top Tip: Designing a Future-Proof Style Guide”:
- Update the brand guide on a regular basis
- Make the brand guide easy to share, find, and update
- Don’t forget to incorporate ideas on tonal changes used across platforms (i.e. social media vs. B2B materials)
Although it’s not a straight brand guide post, you will find plenty of helpful information in “5 Tips to Keep Your Visual Brand Strong as Your Business Grows,” an article published by The Bona Fide Business Guide. Within these five tips, we hear from Sarah Symington of Symmetry Design, a graphic designer who shares her sage advice on everything from visual consistency to common DIY design traps.
Three key tips from “5 Tips to Keep Your Visual Brand Strong as Your Business Grows”:
- Always opt for a graphic designer over DIY design
- Keep marketing assets up-to-date and never distribute old information
- Create a brand guide that you can stick to long-term
Bop Design shares all of its must-haves for creating a B2B brand guide; this is a manual that should be completely separate from those geared towards your consumers. Included in this piece are valuable tips on everything from color schemes to B2B brand statements, and beyond. If a bulk of your business is B2B, then you should absolutely create a separate guide based on these parameters.
Three tips from “What to Include in a B2B Brand Guide”:
- Reference master color lists to identify distinct features
- Be sure to only include cohesive and approved final logos in the guide
- Invest in custom graphics and/or icons
In this piece, Canva, the editing and image creation tool, reveals some of its most impactful brand guide secrets. The easy-to-follow step-by-step includes advice on logo size and placement, color palette selection, typography to reflect brand identity, iconography creation, brand voicing, and much more. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to creating a visual style guide that reflects your brand perfectly.
Three tips from “Your Brand Needs a Visual Style Guide: Here’s How to Create One”:
- Set a cohesive style for all included photography
- Decide what information is most important and form a hierarchy
- Soak in inspiration by looking through the successful visual style guides of other brands
Before you even think about making a brand guide, you and your team must be on the same page as to how you are exhibiting your brand’s identity. Column Five’s step-by-step guide features information on the very factors that help create iconic brand messaging, including topics like logos, colors, typography, data visualization, interactive elements, illustration, and more.
Three tips from “How to Create a Powerful Brand Identity (A Step-by-Step Guide)”:
- Conduct market research to get a better sense of how consumers view your brand’s messaging
- Identify your competition and study their brand guides
- Build your visual brand identity by creating your own unique design system
Marketing firm Ethos reveals its brand messaging secrets in “8 Things You Need to Include in Your Brand Standards Guide (And Why).” The article itself may not be as extensive as others on the list, but it does serve as a good primer – or reminder! – of the basics that it takes to create a successful and highly-personalized brand guide. Included in it are all of the usual suspects, such as logo and color palette selection, but it also takes a dive into headier topics, like positioning statements and key message building.
Three tips from “8 Things You Need to Include in Your Brand Standards Guide (and Why)”:
- Use established marketing collateral to build your key messages
- Include 2-3 primary brand colors in your color palette
- Don’t overload your ‘Brand Elements’ section with too much imagery
This brilliant manual is published by the online business service provider Executionists and focuses on the very beginning stages of brand style guide creation. The manual provides the key reasons as to why all businesses need a cohesive brand/style guide – as well as a good mix of examples that are sure to inspire. For brand guide newbies, this is certainly a great place to get started.
Three tips from “What is a Brand Style Guide and Why Does My Business Need One?”:
- Never rely on generic-looking icons
- Define the colors and styles for all links and buttons used
- In terms of layout, all margins, padding, gutters, or grid patterns must be identified
In this tips list published by Haywire Websites + Design, we receive the key points that should serve as all brand guide standards, including important brand info, prominent and brand-specific visuals, and communication standards. The article even includes a list of handy sources and tools that are designed to help you customized your brand guide even further.
Three tips from “Best Tips and Tricks for Building and Impressive Brand Guide”:
- Work with your copy team to create strong communication guidelines
- Reference the brand and style guides of top companies to gain inspiration
- Use elements and icons to separate your values
This short guide, created by Jetline Print, is geared specifically towards brand managers in the process of establishing a business’ brand guidelines. In it, you can find helpful notes on context, particularly in terms of how guidelines are viewed online versus in print.
Three tips from “How to Create Brand Guidelines: Brand Management Tips”:
- Keep all guidelines concise and easy to understand
- Only include guidelines that strengthen the value of your company
- They should speak to laypeople who don’t have previous experience in your field
In its article, “Why Your Business Needs Brand Guidelines (Consistency FTW),” logo maker Logojoy provides an in-depth explanation of brand guidelines that should be included in a brand guide, as well as the corresponding visual themes that work best. Unsurprisingly, the logo company has plenty of advice to offer on the subject of logos!
Three tips from “Why Your Business Needs Brand Guidelines (Consistency FTW!)”:
- Provide plenty of usage examples in the guide, such as t-shirts and business cards
- Include your brand’s mission statement
- Elaborate on any and all design specifications
In a followup to its webinar by the same name, Lucid Press shares its thoughts on how businesses can best achieve the most consistent brand marketing practices possible. Included in the piece are thoughts on brand guide formatting, how to reinforce the guidelines, and how to best respond to creative requests. To learn more, be sure to watch Lucid Press’ webinar.
Three tips from “4 Tips to More Consistent Brand Marketing [Webinar Recap]”:
- Make all brand guidelines easy-to-access
- Offer brand guidelines in multiple formats
- Attach requirements to project workflows
Marketing agency MiresBall shares its “4 Tips to Help Your Stick to Your Brand Guidelines.” Though this short piece doesn’t highlight the step-by-step process of creating brand guides, it does supply advice on how to enforce the nitty-gritty. MiresBall’s philosophy is a smart one – to always keep the brand guide accessible and up-to-date.
Three tips from “4 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Brand Guidelines”:
- Feel free to edit the guide regularly for clarity
- Designate an “owner’ for the brand guide
- Reassess the guidelines regularly and especially after a major change in direction has been made
UK-based printing firm SM1 Print Studio shares its “11 Tips on Designing Effective Brand Guidelines.” In the piece, the company provides a list of tips that focus mostly on design creation and guideline review. SM1 Print Studio also reminds companies to show “clear examples of the brands in use” within their guides.
Three tips from “11 Tips on Designing Effective Brand Guidelines”:
- Unless you are a design professional yourself, don’t attempt to DIY your brand guide
- Be aware of the various reproduction methods for achieving your brand’s colors across different platforms
- Have honest conversations with your creatives to ensure that everyone is on the same exact page
In this post published by Small Business Trends, you’ll find five important tips on maintaining brand consistency, with legendary beverage brand Coca-Cola as the leading example. Though this piece is less of a step-by-step and more of a general manual, it does provide plenty of sage advice on how you can best stick to your guns – even long after the creation and implementation of your own brand guide.
Three tips from “5 Crucial Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency”:
- Branding style guides will vary greatly from one company to the next
- Designate a group of in-house brand guide “owners “
- For employees, include examples of “bad” brand examples
Brands that draw much of their resources, inspiration, and audience from social media will get plenty of great advice from this brand consistency post, published by SocialMediaToday. In it, we learn about tools that help to create consistent messaging without sacrificing a brand’s unique mission. SocialMediaToday also recommends the use of dashboards, such as Hootsuite and SproutSocial, to help keep your brand’s presence centralized. By adding this to your brand book, you will gain a clearer view of how to be effective on Facebook vs. Instagram, etc.
Three tips from “4 Tips to Keep Your Brand Coherent Across Platforms”:
- Design elements are some of the only things that brands have full control over when working on social media
- The methods in which your brand engages with customers should be determined long before a social media launch
- Use same or similar photos across social media platforms
U.K. design firm Studio 24/7 wants businesses to know the ins and outs of creating a brand guide, though it does recommend for professionals to be “involved early on.” The firm explains that it’s important for the brand to have a clear view of its own examples, materials, and internal feedback, as these are the factors that build cohesive brand guidelines. From there, you are best to leave the polishing and edits to a designated design team, whether it be in-house or hired from the outside.
Three tips from “Top Tips for Effective Brand Guidelines Design”:
- Make your brand guide easily accessible to all
- Establish a ‘sign-off’ process for any and all brand book updates
- Review all guidelines regularly with your team
For a true deep-dive into brand guide basics, check out “What is a Brand Guide?” published by Trekk. In it, you’ll find a detailed list of what it takes to make a brand guide, including exercises that are designed to help brands dig deep into the essence of their brands. As an added bonus, the article also comes along with a basic brand guide template.
Three tips from “What is a Brand Guide?”:
- Before anything else, clearly lay out exactly what your brand does
- Define the visual identity of your brand with a customized color palette
- Include a presentation template within the guide
In this post published by Trillion, we learn all about how brands can create their own basic, bare-bones brand guides. Whether your brand requires something more advanced or something simple, the points included in this guide serve as fitting benchmarks and reminders of what details should always be included. Examples include a designated color palette, logo usage and safe area, and designated font usage.
Three tips from “What Should Be Included in a Basic Brand Guide?”:
- All guidelines published within the guide should be clear and concise
- Include a section on logo ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’
- Include sample ads, brochures, and collateral material
Tech brands can learn a lot from “How to Create a Brand Style Guide Like These Top Tech Companies,” published by the infographic supplier, Venngage. In this post, we see guideline example layouts from companies like Facebook, Hubspot, Spotify, and more. Advice runs the gamut, from typogrpahy best practices to graphic design dos and don’ts.
Three tips from “How to Create a Brand Style Guide Like These Top Tech Companies”:
- Spend time finding the verbiage that excites your audience
- Include image and data visualization guidelines
- Dictate your typography hierarchy
In need of a more advanced view into brand guide creation? If so, you need look no further than this piece published by Visme. In it, you’ll find advice on visual creation how-tos and selecting a DIY logo maker, as well as the best ways to profile your mission and values. Visme even offers a free embed code that allows you to include one of its infographics in your brand guide.
Three tips from “How to Stay on Brand and True to Your Visual Identity”:
- Ensure that the main logo is the most prominently featured
- Create a photography and visuals database for easy updating and referencing
- For a truly memorable logo, seek help from a professional
Download our white paper, How a DAM Can Help Marketing Leaders to Unite Their Teams, to discover how MerlinOne can bring your creative and marketing teams together and maximize your team’s efficiency.
Brand Guide Templates
This brand guide template, created by 99Designs, includes a handy how-to prior to the introduction of the download links. After you read up on the best practices, you can then get started on creating your brand guide within a number of different design platforms, such as Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Sketch, or PDF.
Bashooka has gathered a list of the 25 best brand guideline design templates, a compilation that includes manuals on brand strategy execution, logo guidelines booklets, and even a corporate brand template for brands seeking an ultra-polished look. For those working on Adobe Indesign, check out Temp-ly’s brand guide template – it’s one of the most comprehensive available on the market today.
Behance’s Brand Identity Guideline Template includes 38 customizable pages that are designed to give brands a sleek format while still allowing for their unique messages to shine. The template is posted and made accessible within Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which allows for easy editing and sharing once your guide is all completed and ready for the world.
In Blue Soda Promo’s Brand Style Guide, brands are given the necessary tools for creating a thorough guide that includes a vast array of color palettes, logo options, and more. The template is especially fitting for those brands that are product-based, as the document contains an imprint area for the product specification.
The experts at Brandpad offer a group of beautifully-formatted and stylish brand guide templates and examples you can utilize or build upon. The eight templates are available for download after a quick purchase process. Each one comes with a free preview as well as an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process for getting started.
Canva is one of the leaders of all things website and digital manual creation for a reason – its platform simple to use and its products are sleek and super clean. Currently, Canva offers 61+ brand guidelines presentation templates that are designed to help companies create beautiful and highly-interactive brand guides. Included in the templates are those geared towards musicians, fashion labels, restaurants, authors, and many more.
This post, published by Content Harmony, helps companies create their very first brand style guide. It’s a great place to start for new brands in their start-up phases, but it also serves as a great manual for brands in need of a total brand guide overhaul. At the end of the post, you will find a list of links that take you to templates. When you’re ready, plug your information in, and you’re good to go!
If your company is searching for the best resources on creating consistent brand voice guidelines, this post from CoSchedule will make your day. In it, you will find a long list of brand messaging best practices, including layout requirements, consistency tips, and onboarding practices. From there, you can download the free template, which includes areas on brand and editorial voice guidelines. This is a must for brands whose missions hinge on original content creation.
The design experts at CreativeTouchs has amassed a curated list of 25+ best brand templates for creation in Adobe’s InDesign. Within this collection, you’re sure to find a brand guideline template that meets your requirements, from straightforward templates for internal use to beautiful brochure templates that are sure to impress partners and consumers alike.
Brands in need of truly stunning brand guide examples and templates are sure to be impressed by this list compiled by FlipHTML5. In it, you will find templates for brand guides that are suitable for both internet and print. For easy reference and consideration, FlipHTML5 has also included specific formatting considerations, such as page count, page size, and design software.
Inkbot Design has created and made available for download its Free Brand Guidelines Template, a document that is designed to help brands zero-in on and beautifully present their unique identities. Within the template, you will also find helpful tips along the way, such as advice on color palettes, typography, messaging consistency, and much more.
Lucidpress’ simple brand style guide serves as a great start for businesses who are in the beginning stages of exhibiting their brand identities, both in-house and to the public. This 13-page manual includes with it a short, but ultra-helpful tips list that delves into subjects such as color, content standards, and, most importantly, branded terms.
This brand manual template, designed by Stock Indesign, is a fitting choice for companies who regularly utilize Adobe InDesign. This gorgeous – and FREE – template contains a streamlined list of fonts and colors to choose from. Though it’s not as flexible as others in terms of style, the template does work well for brands looking for a quick and easy guide creation solution.
Keeping a company’s brand cohesive and standardized is a challenge if you are working with a large, dispersed team. Your brand manual is a go-to source to keep everyone aligned and this Adobe Indesign template, courtesy of Unblast, gives you fully formatted sections for logos, your mission, colors, typography, and more. It contains everything you need to format a complete version of your own.
Benchmarking how other companies define their brands is one of the best ways to get ideas and make your own brand guide amazing. You can take the best elements from each that resonate most with your brand strategy. This lengthy post on Venngage offers over 65 different brand guideline templates, providing you with a ton of useful and inspiring ideas to incorporate into your guide.
Brand guides are useful not only for your staff but also for your clients and partners who seek to better understand your unique mission. This bundle of 15 templates from ZippyPixels contains a wide variety of designs across multiple industries. The post also contains a useful set of Photoshop mockups you can use to promote your brand’s guide to the world whenever you are ready.
Brand Guide Examples
This post on 99Designs offers up 30 brand guide examples to inspire your style choices. Also included are some important tips, such as how to choose an eye-catching and inspirational image as the focal point of your brand guide. Along with the tips, 99Designs shares use case examples from other brands, so that you can learn from the experience of others who have already created effective guides.
One industry that is big on branding is higher education; the sector puts a lot of effort into being seen and recognized. This page on the Babson College website contains a style guide along with templates, logos, and many other resources specific to their brand. It is a great example of an organization that values its brand and knows how to organize and share it well with others.
It can sometimes be easy to get caught up in colors, fonts, and page layouts without remembering to keep yourself focused on the fundamentals of your brand strategy. Check out this post from Bluleadz to better assess your core brand essentials defined and ready for a brand guide. They use examples from successful companies like Bacardi and Fandango to show you how some of the best get it right.
When you are first beginning to create your brand guidelines it can be overwhelming. There are a number of style details to manage in order to capture the essence of the whole brand identity. Bluehouse Group offers a nice, concise list of 15 amazing tech brands for you to use as a reference. They include big names like Skype and Microsoft and you can get some great ideas for what players in the tech industry do to stand out.
Content Harmony does a great job with this long list of 36 brand guides which are organized by style type. There are sections including minimalist, grid-based, and inspirational brand styles. You will be able to easily see the design similarities among the groups, in particular, how these specific styles might have a useful impact on your brand guide as a whole. Choosing a specific angle to your design is important and this is a great list to highlight that point.
Having a clean and organized structure for your brand style is an essential part of building a well-designed guide. You want to make sure you don’t overlook any critical parts or fail to explain something clearly. This post on HubSpot gives you a good style guide outline to start from, along with 21 examples for you to browse. Their overview contains a focus on colors and design patterns with some awesome visuals.
The inspiration behind brands is important and there is no better way to define your roots than by studying other brand designs that match with your company’s mission, vision, and values. This collection of examples from Laura Busche’s website contains some great historical and cultural examples not found on many other lists, like NASA’s original 1975 style guide with its futuristic designs that remain a wonderful reference for designers. Or, there is the city of Toledo, Spain who drew its inspiration from the color palette of great works of art represented in the history of the region.
This list is short and sweet. Lucidpress does a great job of covering a wide range of industries and designs in its list of 10 brand guide examples. Sometimes your best ideas can come from studying work that falls outside of your immediate area of focus. Great design and style can come from anywhere and this list will help you formulate some powerful out-of-the-box thinking of your own.
If you are looking for a straightforward “how-to” of the steps involved in creating a brand guide, this post on Medium is for you. It lays out some fundamental points about logos, color, imagery, and typography without getting stuck on unnecessary details. It’s easy to follow and is a great way to wrap your head around the basics of what your brand guide needs to contain.
MerlinOne has put together a nice introduction to brand identity guidelines covering not only why they are important, but it also reveals how to define your identity and keep your brand consistent. The advice is simple, to the point, and useful for helping you understand the basics. If you still need some convincing on the purpose of brand guides and what they are all about, take a look at this post. Download our white paper, 5 Ways a DAM Helps your Team Meet Deadlines, for insights on how MerlinOne can streamline your team’s productivity.
If you need a straightforward list of some high-quality style guide examples, this one, on the Saijo George website, is perfect for you. A bunch of big names are covered along with some newer brands who are doing great work on their brand identities. The list is super easy to browse and gets you directly to the brand information through the conveniently-placed links.
You could spend days looking through all these examples but if you want to focus on only the best brand style guides, this list may be for you. From the Whiteboard group on Medium, this list contains a curated list of 20 of the brand guides they consider to be the best for verbal, visual, and cultural guidelines. It contains an eclectic mix of big brands across many industries and is sure to give you at least a few new ideas.
If you’ve created a perfect brand guide, you’ve provided a valuable framework for your creative and marketing teams to keep your messaging on-brand. Help your team make the best use of your digital assets with a robust digital asset management solution like MerlinOne. Schedule a demo today to learn how MerlinOne can unite your creative and marketing teams and save your team tons of valuable time by making your digital assets searchable.