A guide to developing brand guidelines



In the world of branding, consistency is one of the most important factors. The most beautifully crafted brand is nothing if it is never communicated with consistency and clarity. With partners, other departments, agencies and new hires working on your brand together, how do you make sure you’re all working to the same rules? 


The best way to do this is with a brand guideline document. This is a style guide that lays out the dos and don’ts of your brand and how to use it properly. Within it, you’re able to have to a ready made set of rules to pass to whoever you need to make sure that your business communicates in a way that protects your branding. A good brand guideline document should be suitable to give to anybody from your copywriter to your interior designer 


Your brand guidelines should be a document that works for you, including the things that are important to your brand identity. Companies like Google and Amazon have documents that are hundreds of pages long whereas most smaller companies don’t need the same level of direction. Nevertheless, there are some core things that every brand guideline needs. 

There are a huge range of things that can be added to make sure that your business is shown as it should be, such as:

Logo Design 

In most cases, the first thing that’s shown in a brand document is the logo in the form it’s seen almost all of the time. This is the one that appears on your website, letterheads and business cards. 


Logo Variations

Your logo in its primary form might not work in all placements. To ensure that you’re represented properly, lay out the logo in the acceptable different layouts. Usually, it’s standard to have a version that’s just an icon, a vertical version, as well as examples with or without additional details like backgrounds. Similarly, it’s important to provide a logo on both black and white, with the acceptable colour changes if they’re ever needed. Often, logos are also provided with acceptable spacing to ensure that they’re not crowded. 


Brand Colours

Brand colours often exist in a few iterations. You have your primary colours, which are the ones mainly found on your logo and branded content, and then the secondary colours which tone and add depth. These might be found on your site or on advertising material. Show swatches, codes and combinations to make sure that they’re used exactly as you’d like it. 


Brand Imagery

If anybody else is going to be choosing imagery for your brand, it’s a good idea to explain what is and isn’t on brand. For example, at Zinc we don’t use stock photos on our site so our brand guidelines outline this to make sure that anybody who we work with only uses our internal collection of photography to choose from. If you’re a technology company, you don’t want to use outdated devices on your site. Similarly, you might have a requirement for imagery to be diverse, location specific, or within certain colourways then here’s the time to specify what is and isn’t acceptable. 

Brand Typography 

Font can make a huge difference to the look of your brand. Show what font or fonts your brand uses for headlines, sub-headings, paragraphs, calls to action, and anywhere else that needs to look a certain way. Make sure you specify colours, sizes and weights as well. 


Brand Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice documents can be a huge document in its own right, but it will help anybody writing or creating for your brand to understand the tone of voice you use even from a top level perspective. This can help you eliminate words that you don’t think represent you well and give an idea of what impression your messaging should be giving.


Brand Social Assets

To make sure your social media is in line with your branding, make sure you specify what header images, profile pictures and skins you should be using. Similarly, the content that will be used to make the assets may still need to be on brand, so outline here what that should look like. 


There are a huge range of things that can be added to make sure that your business is shown as it should be, such as:

  • Mantras and Mission Statement
  • Your Story
  • Accessibility Guidelines
  • Stationery 
  • Signage
  • Layout guidelines

Don’t forget that your brand guideline document should be a perfect example of your branding, from tone of voice to the fonts and colours used. What’s more, your document isn’t something that should be static. It should be given to read when there’s somebody new working on any communication for your business, being added to and developed as the company grows. 

If you’d like to talk branding with a team of experts, Zinc are the team for you.

Our creative department is full of talented, inventive people who love to build brands.

Tell us about your business today.

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