How To Create a Brand Book: Guide

How To Create a Brand Book: Guide
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: April 17, 2024

A brand book is an essential document for any business wanting to make a lasting impression. Only one-fourth of businesses have formal branding guidelines such as a brand book (also known as a brand style guide) that they enforce consistently. To ensure your brand book is comprehensive and professionally crafted, consider partnering with one of the best branding agencies; these experts can help you define, develop, and deploy your branding guidelines effectively.

This article covers all you need to know about a brand book, including its definition, step-by-step instructions for building it, benefits and best examples.

What Is a Brand Book?

A brand book, or a brand style guide, is a document that sets specific guidelines for perpetuating brand identity in all external and internal communications.

They most commonly focus on: 

  • The use of logo
  • The use of color
  • Image and photo manipulation on brand's products and deliverables
  • Brand's tone of voice

Professional branding agencies can help you with creating a brand book that will accurately reflect your business value and mission.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

What To Define When Creating a Brand Style Guide

Businesses should create their brand books only after defining their unique character and vision — specifically, these four elements:

  1. Vision and Core Values
  2. Brand Mission
  3. Brand Persona
  4. Target Audience

1. Vision and Core Values

The brand’s vision and core values guide the brand and all business decisions. They point the company toward long-term objectives like gaining brand awareness, trust, and customer loyalty.

Answering the following questions can help determine your vision and values:

  • How big do you want your company to get?
  • Do you plan to branch out with products and services not currently offered?
  • What kind of legacy do you want your business to leave behind?

2. Brand Mission

Ensure your brand mission is clear and grounded by answering these questions:

  • What are your company’s purpose and its reason for being?
  • What is the difference it is trying to make?

By doing so, you’ll differentiate your business from the competition, inspire greater consumer engagement, and hire talent that fits the company’s vision. Your mission and vision should be in the opening lines of the brand style guide to underline why it is important for everyone to be aligned with the following style rules.

3. Brand Persona

Brand persona or personality is vital for getting the right tone of voice for messaging across all channels. Consistent messaging from a well-defined persona makes it easier for customers to connect and identify with your brand.

You can think about a brand as a person with a list of traits you want it to have. Once you identify the characteristics to incorporate into a persona, they can become a guide for the company’s messaging.

4. Target Audience

Target audience is one of the most important things to define. To do that, answer the following questions:

  • What type of people do you want to use your products?
  • Who would you like to visit your site and subscribe to your newsletters?
  • What are your audience’s needs, wants, and values — and how do you factor into them?

Knowing your market segment narrows your audience’s focus and allows you to tailor your message to specific demographics.

9 Elements To Include in a Brand Book’s Style Guidelines

These are the seven essential elements of your branding that should be defined in a brand book:

  1. About
  2. Logo
  3. Colors
  4. Typography
  5. Visual Guidelines
  6. Communication Guidelines
  7. Images
  8. Do's and Don'ts
  9. Other Specifics

1. About

In this section, you need to specify your mission, values, and target audience. Defining this right from the get-go gives context to the content that follows and adds logic to everything you or your partners plan to do using the brand style guide.

2. Logo

A brand style guide should define how to ensure that a distinct logo stays optimized and consistent in different media environments. It should detail all the variations and versions of your logo, how it will look in these different platforms, and what its placement, sizes, and white space will be.

The example of a logo in a brand book

3. Colors

It’s standard practice to pick four or fewer main hues as your primary color palette. This type of book should define when and how to use each color: 

  • Which one is used for the text and which for the design elements? 
  • Which color is for the logo, and which is for the background to make it “pop”? 

Sometimes, these books also define the specific brand color names, color hexadecimal, RGB and CMYK values, or a Pantone name and number, secondary and alternate colors. 

Brand colors

4. Typography

Similarly, there should be a defined font style for both print design and digital applications. In your book, typography should cover how and when to use certain fonts, which typefaces are acceptable, as well as guidelines for additional styling, size, and use of color.

As pointed out by Mayven, most brands use one or two primary typefaces, complementary typeface, and substitute typefaces.

The example of typography in a brand book

5. Visual Guidelines

In this section, you should list the following design elements:

  • Logo: Its placement, variations for different platforms and channels, colors, size, and proportions
  • Colors: Primary and secondary colors as well the monochrome version
  • Fonts: Corporate typography to be used in headlines and bodies of text in official documents
  • Photography: Style and guidelines used for consistent presentation
  • Brandmark: Where to use it
  • Other: Patterns, textures, graphics, icons

6. Communication Guidelines

This section of the brand style guide defines the following:

  • Language: the official language or languages in which a brand communicates with its audience
  • Style: formatting, technical, and non-technical messaging
  • Tone of voice: professional, logical, emotional, humorous, etc.
  • Social media presence: posting types, posting times, different social media styles
  • Emails: structure, signature, and tone
  • Readability and grammar: types of sentences and its lengths, capitalization, numbers, abbreviations, acronyms, proofreading with Grammarly or any other similar tools

Brand voice and messaging

7. Images

Apart from indicating whether you'll be using photos, illustrations, and other types of graphics (as well as when and how you'll be using them), your brand book should also detail how to edit images, which colors to place them with, and any other design elements related to image use.

Collect inspiration from successful brands, particularly those that have similar brand messaging as yours. You can also create a mood board with images that convey the feelings you want people to get when they interact with your brand.

Brand imagery

8. Do's and Don’ts

Brand style guides that also include the things that marketers, designers, partners, and advertisers shouldn’t do — along with the things they should — are double helpful. Having “Do” and “Don’t” columns with specific items under each helps drive home the point and importance of adhering to branding requirements.

9. Other Specifics

Don’t be afraid to be very specific about anything that you feel is necessary to be explained. The more details you have in your brand book, the better. It could be helpful for everyone to include specific scenarios, case studies, visual aids, and examples of use for different logos, imagery, tone of voice, and colors.

If you want to have a different font used across different communication channels, demonstrate this in very specific examples of typeface for body copy, headlines, and titles on all of these channels. This leaves no room for interpretations and uncertainties.

Why Your Business Needs a Brand Book

Here are a few reasons why a brand book can be beneficial for your company:

  • Improved consistency. A brand book ensures that all of your marketing materials follow the same guidelines, helping maintain a consistent look and feel across all channels and improving brand recognition.
  • Strong brand identity. Your brand is more than its visual identity, logo, or color palette. A brand book helps define your brand identity, including your company's values, mission, and personality. This information is important for ensuring that your messaging aligns with your brand and helps build a strong emotional connection with your audience.
  • Increased efficiency. With a brand book, your design team won't need to spend time reinventing the wheel every time they create a new marketing piece. The guidelines provide a roadmap for producing consistent, effective marketing materials, which can save time and resources in the long run.
  • Facilitated collaboration. Clear guidelines and standards can ensure that everyone works towards the same goals and produces cohesive, effective marketing materials.

Brand Book Examples for 2023

Let’s take a look at five companies whose brand books stand out and bring them business success.

  1. Apple
  2. Samsung
  3. Amazon
  4. Lancome
  5. Uber

1. Apple

The half-eaten apple is one of the most immediately recognizable logos in the world — but is merely a fraction of what makes this brand so memorable.

Apple's brand guidelines are made for internal use and for use by companies that promote Apple, in order to “reap the benefits of the Apple identity and contribute to its strength.”

Its content spans using Apple channel signatures such as:

  • Color
  • Minimum clear space and minimum size
  • Typography
  • Avoiding signature mistakes
  • Merchandise items
  • Stationery guidelines and more

It also outlines reseller stores identity, using Apple assets and trademark and credit lines.

Brand book examples: Apple guidelines
[Source: Apple]

2. Samsung

Samsung is a brand that is quite diversified and consists of multiple subdivisions — each having its own set of standards. Samsung Mobile’s brand book (from 2015, but still relevant) outlines standards that define this brand and is an “evolving source for consistent communications across a wide audience of consumers and agencies.”

The brand stylebook contains elements such as proof points and archetypes, that discuss visual standards through a range of specific examples, as well as Samsung's personality.

It also specifies:

  • Logotypes
  • Master logo
  • Logo variations
  • Device logos
  • Campaign logos
  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • UI elements
  • Backgrounds
  • The role of photography
  • Tone
  • Terminology

Besides these fairly standard features, Standard Mobile also has specific requirements when it comes to product presentation. Their brand book discusses requirements for device angles as well as poses and composition with devices.

Brand book examples: Samsung guidelines
[Source: Samsung]

3. Amazon

Online retailer company Amazon’s brand usage guidelines emphasizes the importance of proper brand usage as one of the company’s most valuable brand assets.

The firm allows advertisers to use Amazon branding elements within the requirements that are specified in the document. Also, advertisers must submit the material they intend to use to Amazon for approval.

Amazon’s guidebook outlines:

  • Call to Actions and Amazon text link CTAs that should conform to standards in typeface and sizing, graphical styling, color, and .com usage
  • Branded button CTAs
  • Capitalization and punctuation
  • Brand phrases
  • Branding on and off Amazon site
  • Logos and imagery
  • Clear space
  • Icons and site elements
  • Product imagery
Amazon brand guidelines
[Source: Amazon]

4. Lancome

This personal care and beauty brand has a very brief brand style book that opens with an introduction and a story about a brand’s longevity, values, and mission. Claiming their pivotal role in skincare innovation, the company sets the tone in these opening lines by citing its brand ambassadors and accessibility across the world as some of its strongest points.

The brand book moves on to define these elements as essential for its employees and marketing campaigns:

  • Logo
  • Brand colors
  • Typography

Lancome’s brand style guide is significantly more concise than the other brands on this list. The reason for this is that the mentioned elements don’t vary too much across different channels and are quite uniform. Also, the dose of exclusivity is enhanced through this minimalistic approach, which gives an air of luxury to a mass product.

Lancome brand guidelines
[Source: Lancome]

5. Uber

World’s number one ride-hailing app has a stylish brand book that contains nine core elements:

  • Logo
  • Color
  • Composition
  • Iconography
  • Illustration
  • Motion
  • Photography
  • Tone of Voice
  • Typography

Each of those takes up its own section in the brand book and is very detailed in the way it explains how every core element should be constructed for consistency.

For instance, Uber specifies that its primary color, which is its global association with the brand, is black. The company also defines a range of secondary and tertiary colors to be used in order to work with black in instances of alternate logo versions.

The brand book also contains guides on logo construction and clearspace, as well as its scale, placement, and typeface. 

Uber is very detailed in determining its unique tone of voice to be used across all touchpoints. They define consideration, simplicity, and consistency as their messaging’s key worth; as well as sounding optimistic, inviting, and bold. 

Uber brand guidelines
[Source: Uber]

Brand Book Takeaways

A brand style book is very important for keeping your brand’s identity consistent and distinctive. As your company grows, this document will help with keeping the larger number of employees on the same page with the requirements and standards of the business.

This ensures your brand sticks in your target audience’s mind by always remaining faithful to your logo, colors, tone of voice, typography, and other vital elements that constitute your business.

And as your business grows and matures, this will help to build a trustworthy and reliable experience for everyone who engages with it — which means more customers and more profits.

The best branding agencies can provide all the necessary guidance for creating a brand book.

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