Studio Giraffe

What are brand guidelines and why do you need them?

Branding, Graphic Design, CommunicationTulika Sud

Creating a logo in isolation serves a very limited purpose as far as brand identity is concerned. While the logo is the primary mark of a brand, consistent use of typography, colour palettes and imagery serve to enhance it and convey the overall substance of the brand. 

A brand guideline is a comprehensive manual outlining the brand in terms of how it presents itself. This generally includes:

  1. Brand story
  2. Logo and usage
  3. Typography
  4. Colour palettes
  5. Imagery styles
  6. Tone of voice
  7. Taglines
  8. Patterns
  9. Iconography

To create a seamless identity, these elements should be defined in conjunction with the logo, rather than as an afterthought. Designers should be considering how they intend to create and utilise these elements while they are conceptualising the logo. These details are then compiled and described in the brand guidelines.

A brand guideline ensures that all communication that is put out by the brand is consistent and recognisable. This is especially key for larger teams, to ensure that content produced by the various parties involved is polished and up to brand standards. It also simplifies the process when working with external agencies and freelancers, as they can be brought on board quickly with less room for error in terms of enforcing guidelines correctly.

Although brand guidelines were traditionally created in the form of a document or presentation (whether printed or online), many companies today are moving towards web-based brand guidelines, which are easy to update, ensuring everyone is always using the latest version.

A logo alone is not enough to make a brand distinct and memorable, so if you are considering a rebrand or creating a new brand, consider a more holistic approach by defining all the other visual and tonal elements that will be identified by your brand. Your designer can then create brand guidelines for your team to use moving forward.