What Are Brand Guidelines?
February 28, 2023
We’re warm like the sand in July. We’re cool like the ocean that washes up on the shore. We’re radiant like the sunset on a midsummer night. We echo these flavors through visual cues and image-evoking vernacular like coral, tan, gables, fresh, and florida keys. Ygro Sans and Neuzeit typify our personable voice. Oh—I apologize…
Hi, we’re Made in July. What’s your name?
What are brand guidelines?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Most people will tell you that brand guidelines are the rules of design. Those people haven’t seen the way that we do it over here. At Made in July, we know brand guidelines are so much more.
Think of them as a first impression. Your brand is a handshake at an interview, your hair on a first date, the lawn in front of your house. The look of your brand reflects the work you produce. When people approach your brand, they pay attention to its style and decide whether you would be a good fit. Your brand guidelines encapsulate your brand’s identity.
What goes into brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines & their depth vary for each client and truly depend on what the client is looking for. They can range from conceptualizing ideas to developing and refining them further. Here are some things we like to include:
Logos + Marks
- Logo: Your logo is the star of your brand! It is what you will be, visually, most recognized for.
- Secondary Logo: Your secondary logo can be used in places where your official logo doesn’t quite fit, literally. While it still uses elements from your primary logo, it’s rearranged to better adapt.
- Word Mark: This is the version of your logo with zero frills—just the company name.
- Logo Color Variations: Supplementary to your built-out logo, the color variation can be used in place of your primary logo when the colors are needed. These colors are typically found in your color palette.
- Color Palette: Your color palette is a range of colors that represents your brand’s charm
- Primary Color: The foundational colors used by your brand.
- Neutral Color: The colors used to balance out your color palette.
- Accent Color: These add a little flare to your palette.
- Gradients: These are beautiful blends of your colors to be used as visual accents.
Typefaces + Fonts
- Typefaces: The fonts that are used to capture a brand’s nature. These can be fun, more sophisticated, or a mix of both!
- Logo Font: The fonts used to create your logo.
- Primary Font: The default typeface that represents your brand’s identity. It’s your core font.
- Secondary Font: Used to support or supplement your primary typeface.
- Patterns: Patterns are great for elevating brand guidelines. They’re used to complement other design elements.
- Icons: These graphic symbols are often used to represent the brand & to illustrate specific concepts or ideas associated with the brand.
- Copy Guidelines: Take a look at our blog post for more information on how to define your copy guidelines!
How do I create my brand guidelines?
Creating your brand guidelines is quite the creative process. Start with a long walk and maybe a snack. Now that you’re refreshed, it’s time to get to work.
Put some thought into it.
Think about your brand’s mission and goals. Think about what you want to accomplish. Think about how you want to appear. Think about your industry. Think about your target audience.
Now after all that thinking, get another snack—and please clean your own plate this time.
Start experimenting with the colors, fonts, logos, images, anything that allows you to express the values and purpose of your brand. Whether you’re trying to radiate extravagance, sophistication, or playfulness, this is your time to build that visual identity through your own creative expertise.
Build your style guide.
You have all your elements, and it’s time to determine their most effective uses. Look at this step as your “do’s and don’ts”. Your style guide outlines how each of your elements will be used to keep your brand consistent moving forward.
Write your copy guidelines.
It’s time to develop your brand’s voice! Going back to your values, figure out how to bring that to life in your copy. Define your brand’s tone, and illustrate it through some pillars. Add depth by writing your guidelines in the newly developed voice.
Rejoice and refresh.
Once you solidify the elements of your brand guidelines, they’re ready to go! However, the work isn’t done quite yet. Every once in a while, go back and review your guidelines to make sure they continue to align with your mission and are effectively getting your message across to your audience. If needed, give them a bit of a refresh!
What are the benefits of brand guidelines?
The multi-channel communication platforms used nowadays get tricky—trust us, we know. That’s where the brand guidelines come in. They help us stay consistent in everything we produce, keeping our brand cohesive and recognizable. They set us apart from everyone else, ensuring our individuality. Brand guidelines make it easy for incoming creators to stay on-brand, providing clear directions on how to represent the brand most effectively.
Visual representation of your mission
Brand guidelines are built around your company’s values and the message you want to communicate. By using the elements of your brand guidelines, you can deliver more depth and meaning to your ideas. They’re also essential to ensuring that the brand is consistently aligned with the company's mission and vision.
By pulling the key elements of your brand and how you want them to be used, brand guidelines create a strong and effective image that resonates with your desired target audience. The brand guidelines are meant to communicate the company’s value and differentiate them from its competitors.
What can I use my brand guidelines for?
In the eyes of other businesses, your brand guidelines are the equivalent of a dating profile. You want to make sure they reflect your personality and who you truly are.
Here are a few ways your brand guidelines can be used:
- Marketing Materials: When designing marketing materials, your brand guidelines are a great reference for direction and consistency. These marketing materials may include brochures, business cards, advertisements, social media, and website design.
- Product Development: Brand guidelines should be used as an asset when developing new products for your brand. A goal should always be to capture not only your aesthetic but your missions as well.
- Copywriting: While visual communication is essential in this industry, it’s important that your words match your appearance. Your copy guidelines create a tone that aligns with your brand’s identity.This tone can and should be used across your website, social media posts, and all other forms of communication.
- Training: Brand guidelines should be used as a standard for all employees. They teach your newest team members how to represent the brand well, internally and externally.
- Partner Onboarding: Things can get tricky when collaborating with other companies. To avoid the confusion, brand guidelines ensure that all produced materials are consistent with your company, even while working with people outside of your team.
Can I see some brand guidelines in action?
We’re glad you asked! Here at Made in July, we develop brand identities to create an impact. Here are some examples of brands we’ve worked with:
Based on these communities’ missions and ideas, we built their logos to reflect who they are as brands. It’s clear that a distinct sense of identity propels these brands forward, and their personalities shine through these logos.
Now, let’s look at something a little more familiar:
I’m sure you can recognize most of these brands by their logos alone. That’s what we call successful branding! These companies have effectively used their brand guidelines to elevate their image, taking their brand to the ultimate level of audience recognition.
Now it’s your turn!
Made in July loves to embody our friendly tone through our branding. That being said, we wanna get to know you!
Need a little help getting started on your brand’s identity? Let’s connect. If you want to work with us, tell us about yourself here. Be sure to follow us on our Instagram and LinkedIn to see how we maintain our brand.