How to create the ultimate brand guide

The brand guide is a new post-contest deliverable in logo & bundle pack contests at 99designs. It is an essential tool for businesses and designers benefit from clear guidelines. 
 
This resource page shows you how to create an awesome brand guide that will wow your client.

What is a brand guide?

A brand guide is the set of rules that an organization follows when presenting their brand to the world. It generally details things like the organization’s story, tone of voice and target audience to help a team represent the organization consistently.

Before you get started

Selling the brand guide

Some clients may not even be aware of brand guide and its benefits, so be prepared to explain to them. Here is a good starting point for your clients: How to create a brand style guide.

Talk to your clients

Communicate with your client early in the process. Clarify what they expect from you in terms of deliverables and timeline.

Divide and conquer

Generally, you handle the design aspects of the guide: this means the logo, brand color, font and in some cases, the image choices and the logo usage. The client should provide the rest before you proceed to laying out the brand guide.

Image and personality

If you're in charge of image choices, start with the client’s brand story. Then make sure to source images from approved stock sites, and let the client knows they may have to pay for stock licences.

Keep it simple

If you use a brand guide template (like the one we provide below), modify it to the clients’ needs and add creative touches if it fits the brand. Do not let flourishes get in the way of the information. The brand guide must function as a resource for many people.

Your brand guide checklist

Here are 6 essential elements of a brand guide. We give recommendations on who is responsible for each section, but it's always best to discuss with your client.

Brand story

Information can vary, but usually your client provides the organization's contact details (website, email, address and/or phone number) and a little snippet of their origin story.
 
They may also provide the following:

Mission

A definition of why their organization exists and what it intends to do in the world.

Brand personality

Who their organization would be as a character, and the traits that define who they are. As a starting point, an organization can choose 3-5 adjectives that best describe it.

Target audience

The key people (prospective customers) their products/services provides benefit. 

Core values

The guiding principles for the organization's decisions and actions.

Logo

More often than not, your client already has a logo to work with, you may even have designed it for them! Most clients will need guidelines on how to use the logo in different settings and variations. 

Color

Display your client's color palette and provide the rules for use. If your client does not have an established color theme, include this work in your initial discussions to set the right expectations.

Typography

Like color, the fonts should stay true to the organization's brand story. Unless the client already has some style ideas, you should recommend some on-brand font choices.

Image

Choose imagery that best represents the organization. We recommend creating a mood board of inspirational images to get started. Check in with the client as they may already have pictures they use.

Voice

The right tone speaks to the organization's target audience while reinforcing their brand personality. Your client should provide you with this information to add into the guide.

Components of a brand guide

Below is a breakdown of our standard brand guide template (available for download below). Remember that different clients have different requirements so you may omit some, or you may even include more elements.

Cover

The cover sets the tone of the overall brand guide. The most popular option is to include the company logo on the cover.

About

This is where your client’s business information and brand story live.

Logo and its usage

This section sets out the rules on how the brand logo should be used. For example, if the logo comes in wordmark and icon forms, establish rules of where and when each form is used. List the size requirements and color specifications.

Typography

Establish a clear set of rules on the fonts used: do you want to keep it regular at 12 pt, italics only or absolutely not in bold?

Color

Providing the primary and secondary colors is good, but to ensure brand color consistency, you need to also provide the HEX, RGB and CMYK values.

Your designer profile

This is the perfect spot for your short profile which can include your contact details, experience and your portfolio.

Glossary

Include all the specific design terms used in the brand guide.

End

This is a great place to reiterate the look and feel of the brand for a strong finish. You can use a straightforward approach with the company address and logo on the side, or a go brand-forward with a great quote against the primary brand color. Your client should definitely have input here.
 

Download the brand guide template

 

Submitting to your client

Ensure that you submit the correct files to your client:
  • A high-res, editable source file of the final design (PSD, AI or INDD)
  • A print-ready PDF file with all the fonts outlined
  • Upload all pages of the brand guide in one file