Every company has a set of design rules and guidelines to follow. You might have heard it called a brand guide, brand snapshot, brand book or brand style. Whatever you call it, these rules help people distinguish their brand from others. Meanwhile, the guidelines will help maintain the integrity of a company’s brand and voice.

What is a Brand Guide

A brand guide is an official corporate document that explains the brand’s identity. This also presents the brand standards and guidelines. Most brand guides focus on the design aspect, while others include a company overview and communication guidelines. Before starting on a brand guide, a company should consider how your company voice and visual brand can support one another.

“A brand style guide takes the heart and soul of your brand—your mission, vision and values—and translates it into design. It also tells everyone exactly how to communicate your brand.” – Shirley Chan, 99designs (@99designs)

Tweet This: What exactly is a brand snapshot? Check out more in this @omahaywire #design 101 article!

What to put in your Brand Guide

Brand snapshots can be as detailed as you want. The more detailed the brand snapshot is, the better people will understand your brand. Remember, these documents are key to keeping your internal team on brand. The key parts of a brand guide are your brand story, visual guidelines and communication guidelines.

About the Brand

This section of the guide should include your brand’s mission, values, vision and target audience. Your brand story can be as long or short as you want it. Keep in mind, the more thorough you are, the easier it will be for your team to understand the rules of your brand. Many companies fall into the habit of keeping this part boring. Asana is a great example on how to make your brand story more appealing. The company uses elements and icons to separate their values. Also using hierarchy with typography and color can help make this part visually appealing.

screenshot of hierarchy including empowering, purposeful, quirky and approachable
(photo credit: https://www.contentharmony.com/blog/great-brand-guidelines/)

Visual Guidelines

Visual guidelines are the design part of your brand. It should include logo/mark, tagline, typography, colors, imagery, graphics and application of them all. This part just like any other can be as detailed as necessary for your brand. Some companies just have one page for design while others have multiple. The more detailed you are the easier it will be to design for your brand. Some good examples are Spotify and Miami Football.


The elements part of Spotify’s brand guide includes the various ways they use their logo, imagery and font. The first part has a brief explanation of the brand elements. This is more of a straightforward basic layout. The logo is shown by itself, inside a rectangle, in smaller sizes and just the mark. They have a handful of images to show the look and feel they are going for. Then they have their font set up with the name and the alphabet of that font.

screenshot of spotify brand elements
(photo credit: https://www.contentharmony.com/blog/great-brand-guidelines/)

Miami Football

Their brand guide is the more complex of than Spotify. They show their logo, fonts, colors, elements, and application of brand. The logo is seen in different variations and colors. It also shows the breakdown of the logo explaining what each part means. The colors are displayed in circles and rectangles showing the various shades. Application of the brand is shown on shirts. Lastly they have their elements/icons laid out so the viewer knows how each are used appropriately.

screenshot of miami football club brand guidelines
(photo credit: https://designschool.canva.com/blog/50-meticulous-style-guides-every-startup-see-launching/)

Communication Guidelines

The communication section of the brand guide can include language, grammar and formatting, readability, tone of voice, email, editorial style guide and social media. Language is what type of language does your brand communicate. Grammar and formatting are abbreviations, numbers, capitalizations, acronyms, times and titles. Readability is how easily can you read the body font, also use short and simple sentences for certain designs. Tone of voice is what kind of tone you want your users to get such as logical, emotional or humorous. For email you would show the structure and the signature that all your emails would have. Editorial style guide is the guidelines and formatting/structure for blog posts. Some organizations even include a guide to social media posts, posting times and post types.

Tweet This: Want to know what to put in your brand guideline? Check out more on this @RedBranch #design101 article!

Tools to help you get started

There are multiple tools to help build your brand guide. I find Pinterest, Frontify and lynda.com helpful for guidance and inspiration. Otherwise you can just simply search the web and find hundreds of articles, images and examples to help get you started.


Pinterest is a great tool for inspiration and design. Type the term “brand guides” and you will get a wide variety of styles and ideas. Use the terms on the top is a bar (like the one below) to narrow your search. Often, you can even find downloadable templates to help with the layout of your brand guide. For further inspiration, consider the tone you wish to convey with your brand and use terms around it.

pinterest download menu pinterest brand guidelines examples


With Frontify, you can create brand guides in minutes. This site is a step by step process. Frontify is a paid site but you can start with a free trial. The tool helps you create a brand guide. They have multiple tools to help you design your guide.

monobrand style guide screenshot


Lynda.com is a great tool to help you get started. This site goes through step by step processes of pretty much anything you can think of design wise. For brand guides it takes you through what a brand guide is, why we use them and how to make one. If you need very detailed instructions this is the place to use.

lynda.com developing a style guide screenshot

Now you have all the information you need to make an impressive brand guide. Remember to think about what is the most important part of your brand before starting. The more detail you have the better people will be able to understand and use your brand. Make your brand guide informative and eye catching. The more you design it the more people will pay attention.








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