Developing Your Brand Guidelines
There are multiple ways to approach how to develop brand guidelines and your journey to increase brand awareness. You could focus on the basics, or really break down every part of your brand. For now, to keep things manageable for those just starting out, we are just going to focus on creating basic brand guidelines.
So, how do you begin to develop your brand guidelines? Start off by focusing on brand identity. Set some core guidelines that your team can follow. This will help to create and maintain consistency across marketing platforms. Also, it will help to establish your company’s brand voice.
Why is Learning How To Develop Brand Guidelines Important?
Branding gives your company a personality, which is something that sets you apart from everyone else.
Think of some of your favorite brands. How do they differ from one another? Does their logo stand out? Do their colors and fonts reflect their personality? Even within sports, each team has a different logo as well as different colors that set them apart from the other teams! These are things that are valuable to consider when you’re thinking about how to develop your own brand guidelines.
Where Should I Start?
A great place to start when developing your own brand guideline is with research. You want your brand to stand out from the crowd and your competition. Many companies post their brand guidelines online.
Netflix has a great layout of how they display their company’s visual identity. Researching other companies and their brand guidelines is a great way to gather inspiration. For some other aspects of design inspiration, check out my blog post called, Graphic Design Blogs I Love Reading.
Once you’ve gathered your inspiration, make a list of how you’d like your company to be received. Does your company have a mission statement? What does it specialize in? Is it a laid back company that focuses on a fun free lifestyle or more of a serious company focused on technology?
These things are very important when you’re thinking of how to develop brand guidelines. It can be extremely jarring to your customer if your brand doesn’t match your company’s personality.
Designing a Logo
If you have a logo established and designed already, your brand guidelines should include variations of this logo. These variations could be your logo with text, without text, black and white versions as well as your typical logo.
Having multiple variations of your logo helps when it comes to printing or other forms of marketing, where you may have to make your logo smaller, bigger, or even black and white. You will want to have web-ready versions of your logo variations, as well as print-ready versions. Be clear on which are to be used for what medium, so there isn’t any confusion.
Having a logo can seriously help when you’re developing your brand guidelines since you can use the logo as inspiration itself to develop a color palette and a font hierarchy. You can test multiple different color and font combinations with your logo to see what exactly will work for you and your brand.
Picking a Color Palette
When it comes to creating your brand, colors can evoke many different emotions, which can alter the personality of your brand.
Remember that list you created earlier? This would be a fantastic time to reflect on the things you listed about your brand and pick colors to reflect that.
Typically, when creating brand guidelines, you should choose 3-5 color combination possibilities composed of 4-5 different colors to use within the branding. You don’t want to have too limited of a color palette, but also don’t want to have too many colors.
It’s okay if the colors aren’t within the same color family, however you want them to be able to “sing” to one another. In other words, they should still work well together, even if they’re contrasting.
One tool that is extremely helpful when creating your color palette is Coolors. This site has an entire database of color palettes, as well as the ability to customize your own palettes and create palettes from photos.
If you have a product that happens to be a certain color, you can take a photo of it and upload it right into the palette generator! Included in these color palettes are multiple different codes so you can use these colors in multiple different mediums and programs.
How to Develop Brand Guidelines: Font Edition
Like colors, fonts can also affect the mood and the “vibe” your brand is giving off. Some fonts give off a more casual and expressive tone, while others are more reserved and serious.
Choosing a couple of different fonts can help you create a hierarchy in your designs. But to understand which fonts could work with your brand, it helps to understand the different categories of fonts.
Serif versus Sans Serif
A Serif is the little “foot” on the end of a typeface. So, serif fonts will have the feet on the end whereas a sans serif font will not. Serif fonts tend to have a more traditional look to them and are typically used in newspapers, magazines, and books.
If you want your brand to appear more serious, elegant, and established you should use a serif font. Sans serif, on the other hand, give brands a more modern, casual, fun look. These types of fonts appear friendly, laid back, and approachable.
In the end, it all depends on how you’d like your brand to read, but researching different fonts can make a huge difference when it comes to your branding!
Putting Your Brand Guidelines All Together
After you’ve decided on your colors, fonts, and a logo, you should create a brand guidelines sheet. That way, you can keep everything organized and have your brand stay consistent across all marketing platforms.
Brand guidelines can be simply laid out on an 8.51×11 sheet or a simple web page like the one used at Netflix! You want to start with including your logo and your brand colors and fonts in an organized fashion so it’s easy to read for both you and your team.
There are many other aspects that can be added into a branding guide including instructions, illustrations, textures, icons, etc. If you’re ready to take the next step, take a look at Hubspot’s blog about branding inspiration. This includes a link that includes helpful templates that teach you how to develop brand guidelines in more detail!
We understand working on your brand’s identity can be a complex project. Whether it’s designing your company’s logo, or creating a guideline that fits your brand’s personality we are here to help you on your journey.
lexi at heartbrain dot marketing