Brand Guideline Creation – A beginners guide


As organizations grow, they feel the need to consolidate their brand. In many cases, this is a relatively simple effort. However, consumer facing brands in today’s world find themselves in need of comprehensive brand guidelines – a document that is a bible, an auditing tool, as well as creative inspiration. Beginning the documentation of such an effort is a mammoth task in itself, with many factors to take into account. Some questions we face constantly are:

How digitally ready is my brand today?

Can I really scale this?

Where does retail design fit into the picture?

And so on…

A simple guide for anyone to follow – whether a marketing manager, designer or a brand strategist – is given below.

Develop a brand guideline with easy to use templates and guides that people across the organization are able to leverage. The guideline should be user friendly, but largely, just pay attention to the points below:
1. Strategic: Focus on why it is important and what the company is trying to achieve, not just  how to do it.
2. Visual: Demonstrations are often more effective than lengthy text.
3. Easy-to-understand: Develop content that is engaging and avoid unnecessary jargon.
4. Short: 40 pages of useful information may be more effective than 100 pages. Try not to include fillers, such as unnecessary information on how to create a business card, when
templates are more effective.
5. Balanced: Identify the appropriate balance between structure and flexibility. Too much flexibility results in complete chaos, too much structure results in lifeless communications.
6. Digital: For interim standards, create pdf files that can viewed online, emailed or downloaded
and printed. The standards can eventually be established as an online identity resource.
7. Scalable:  Digital files that can be expanded or revised help to establish that identity management. This isn’t a static or one time event.

What is most important to remember however is that the brand articulation,
covering positioning, values, personality along with the brand architecture should
be part of the guidelines. This forms the heart of the guideline, with everything else flowing from there.

Some great examples of brand guidelines can easily be found online. Here are our picks.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a great brand guideline. It has tons of downloadable resources – even for print! View them here

Asana: The guys at Asana (the project management tool) go into depth  about why their brand is the way it is. They explain to the world at large the origin and meaning of the Asana brand. It’s a great way to describe your purpose of existence.

Skype: If you haven’t already seen this, you should. Skype makes it a point to demonstrate how exactly their brand should exist, through stories. And in case you haven’t seen their older brand guide , then this one is worth a keek too!

And finally, here’s a small glimpse of what we did for WNS with the WNS Brand Guideline.

So, how would you build a brand guideline?