Branding, Internet Marketing, Marketing Strategy

How To Create Brand Guidelines That Your Entire Company Can Use

How do you create brand guidelines?
Where are the logo files?
What font should I use?
….Why have we used comic sans on the website?

Sounds familiar? Well, you’re not alone!

Having a strong, considered and compelling brand for your business is merely the beginning.

The real challenge is ensuring that your brand assets and their use stays consistent and up to date across all of your company’s material.

At the end of the day, the brand is about recognition, familiarity, and recall – having inconsistencies across your media is a sure way to confuse your audience and diffuse your messaging.

The challenge here doesn’t necessarily lie in your brand or your customers, but within your communication with your team. The solution is simple – Brand Guidelines… just not quite how we know them.

Presentation of brand manager.

Here are 5 top tips on how to create brand guidelines that your entire company can follow that can change and grow with your business.

Top Tips To Create Brand Guidelines

1) Build Comprehensive Brand Guidelines

When people, either internally or externally, are using your brand and its assets they will make hundreds of micro-decisions on how they use it.

Whether that be your tone of voice in written copy, your brand colors on social posts, or your logo placements on partner communications.

Anything you don’t specify exactly how to use it is left to chance that the individual creator will prepare something that aligns with your core brand. In essence, it’s important to own the narrative.

We’d recommend including guidance across all core bases of your brand within your guidelines including:

  • Core Company Messaging: Vision, Mission, and Values.
  • Logo Files: Including all sizes, colors, monotone versions, and inverted versions
  • Logo Use: Including specific guidance on how, when, and where to use your logo
  • Colors: Specifying your primary, secondary, and accent colors. It’s also recommended to have a longer list of colors you’d use across more causal communication like social media and also what you should and shouldn’t use within your product.
  • Fonts: In addition to your logo font it is important to give at least three options of other fonts (or versions) for creatives to be able to maintain consistency but still have flexibility. This might be a font for main written text, a font for headers or navigation menus, and a font for exclamations to be used occasionally to attract attention. It may be worth noting that these fonts may all be the same base font but have different weightings and versions like bold or italics.
  • Tone Of Voice: Often overlooked, it’s important to specify how your brand should communicate in certain circumstances. Are you fun, friendly, authoritative, supportive? Feel free to specify how your brand can communicate in different circumstances giving plenty of examples of what to and not to do.
  • Brand Celebrity (Bonus): Some brilliant brands have modeled their spirit on a celebrity or a well-known person. This simple connotation enables team members to easily breathe life into their brand and gives some additional intangible connotations that a traditional description may miss.

2) Share It And Make It Searchable

Now comes the hardest part – you’ve created your beautiful and comprehensive brand guidelines – now it’s time to share it with your team to feel the benefit across everything you do.

No matter how you choose to store and share your brand guidelines there are three fundamentals to consider:

1) Keep It Centralized – Ensure everything is in one place having logos in one document, fonts in another, and written content elsewhere is a fast way to people becoming lost, distracted, and ending up with a mismatch of brand assets.

2) Ensure It’s Accessible, Always – Ensure everyone who needs access to your brand guidelines has it, but most importantly ensure they can easily navigate to your ‘single source of truth’ and to ensure consistency consider making your brand guidelines searchable so people can easily navigate to exactly what they’re looking for.

3) Enable Versioning – There is no doubt that your brand guidelines will change and adapt as time passes and new mediums arise. It’s important to store your brand guidelines in a format that can be easily updated but most importantly where everyone with access will automatically be updated about the new changes.

This sounds like an administrative burden but it doesn’t need to be. Waybook is a tool specifically designed for you to easily document all of your systems, processes, knowledge, and guidelines in a format that is made for high-impacting onboarding, training, and reference material. Perfect for storing and sharing your Brand Guidelines.

Share It And Make It Searchable.

3) Keep All Files Together

Often brand guidelines start and stop as a list of dos and don’ts leaving your team members and partners to create and recreate images, content, and files.

To enhance consistency even further and slash the time of production it is highly recommended that all of your master asset files, font files, logos, templates, biographies, and all other core content you create live within a central repository.

This can of course be within your company’s existing file sharing structure, on a Google Drive, Dropbox, or even attached to your Brand Guidelines document within your Waybook. The most important thing is that it’s easily accessible and stays up to date.

4) Confirm Understanding

You’re almost there! Your Brand Guidelines are looking strong, they’ve been easily shared with your team and everyone has access to the latest documents and material.

But do they actually look at any of it? Sometimes our creative minds take over and it can be fun to go off-piste and create something entirely new.

While creativity is great if people haven’t at least seen the guidelines – let alone confirmed they understand the sentiment this can be a recipe for disaster.

When sharing your brand guidelines it’s important that everyone using the brand truly understands the content and commits to being the guardian of the brand as we hope it will continue to grow and strengthen beyond us all.

There are lots of ways of doing this. The simple one is to request everyone to confirm that they have both received and then read the guidelines.

Secondly, you could create a simple questionnaire to ensure everyone truly appreciates how the brand can live beyond the pages for the brand guidelines – perhaps with some multiple-choice questions encouraging your team to identify your brand portrayed correctly or incorrectly.

While this essential step can be a little clunky in your day-to-day communication it comes built-in with tools such as Waybook. Giving you the ability to easily track your team’s progress through the guidelines you’ve shared and even set tests or assessments to ensure understanding and consistency. We would recommend that everyone is familiarised with brand guidelines during their onboarding. That way they know what they cover and where to find the guidelines for future reference.

Confirm understanding when you create brand guidelines.

5) Have A Single Brand Owner

If you’ve followed the previous four tips then you’ll be well on your way to having brand guidelines that your entire company can follow. The best news is that once created these guidelines will live on without too much management or maintenance.

There are times however where amendments will be needed, new formats created and new decisions made. This fifth tip is just for those moments.

Choosing one single brand owner whether they be internal (ideal) or external will give the ability to maintain consistency and strength even throughout the change.

This individual should be made available to all those creating from the brand guidelines and act as the brand guardian and the go-to for any clarifications whenever needed.

There you have it, 5 simple tips to creating brand guidelines that your entire company can follow.

While the exact contents of your brand guidelines will likely vary, we hope that the above guide will support you in creating, sharing, and benefiting from the perfect brand guidelines for your business.

If you’re looking to get started with easily documenting your brand guidelines or any other business documentation in a way that is built to share please feel free to start a free trial at Waybook.com and request the Brand Guidelines template to get started in seconds.