Why Your Business Needs a Brand Guide and How to Create One

brand guide

Why Your Business Needs a Brand Guide & How to Create One

Brand guides (also known as brand style guides or brand identities) are something that many businesses are capitalizing on, especially in the age of social media, where their online presence can have a bigger impact. 

In fact, more than 85% of businesses reported they had created brand guidelines for their business. 

If you wish to become a part of this statistic in next year’s report (aka, if you wish to create a brand guide for your business), this guide will help you out. We have all the need-to-know details about what a brand guide is, the benefits, and how to create one. 

Let’s dig in!

Brand guide: The long and short of it

Here’s the thing: If you’re online, you have a presence or a personality that shapes the perception of your brand in front of your customers’ eyes. So, to set the right impression, you’ll need to consciously build an image that’s consistent across all channels. 

A brand guide helps you do that —  this guide is sort of like a brand bible. It highlights exactly how your brand should be portrayed in front of your customers. It has details like:

  • Messaging that’s acceptable to the brand
  • Writing guidelines
  • Color palettes
  • Tone of voice
  • Typography
  • Dimensions
  • Logo usage
  • Visuals

Such guides help your internal as well as external teams (like contractors or freelancers) know exactly what type of content and assets to produce. 

For example, here’s what a brand guide might look like: 


When creating a brand guide, for example, for a dispensary business, it serves as a foundational step in establishing a coherent and impactful brand identity. 

Additionally, complementing it with a dispensary business plan outlines crucial aspects such as market analysis, target audience demographics, product offerings, marketing strategies, and regulatory compliance measures. 

By aligning the brand guide with a business plan, it helps both internal and external teams stay true to the company’s values and goals.

What are the benefits of creating a brand guide for your business?

A brand guide can have impactful benefits, such as:

  • Delivering a consistent brand experience: Any time your audience interacts with your brand, either offline or online, it becomes part of the overall experience of your brand — and to deliver a consistent experience, you need to leverage a brand guide. 
  • Showing that you care: If you go to the lengths of developing an in-depth brand guide for your customers to ensure they get the experience they deserve, it shows ‌your customers that you care about how they perceive you. 
  • Putting your brand in a professional light: To put yourself across as a polished brand, not only in front of customers but also in front of your vendors, investors, collaborators, and contractors, you need to have a brand guide. 
  • Creating minimal confusion: If both internal and external teams have access to a branding document, they’re likely to know exactly what kind of work you want and will create something that’s close to being publish-ready and requires minimal edits. 
  • Allowing you to stand out from the crowd: Last but not least, a brand guide will also allow you to stand apart from your competitors, as every asset and piece of content you produce will be branded and will make customers think of your brand. 

In certain cases, instead of creating specific brand guides, some companies tend to create business guides (which have details about legal requirements, LLC costs, company finances, global payroll compliance, etc.) —  these business guides then also include a section about branding, wherein similar details such as that of a brand guide are mentioned.  


How to create a brand guide: A step-by-step walkthrough of the process

Without further ado, let’s walk through seven simple steps for creating your own brand guide. 

Step 1: Do a brand content audit and enlist the help of experts

First thing first —  before you even begin creating your brand guide, take a look at your existing content materials and visual assets to see what themes you’re currently following, why, and what level of success it’s given you. 

This stage is just for preliminary research and to make a few decisions about what details you’d like to improve on and which elements you’d still like to stick with. 

Ideally, if possible, get the help of CX (customer experience) experts and brand strategists in your niche to see what insights they have and what they’d recommend changing. 


Step 2: If you haven’t already, drill down on your customers and competitors

At this stage, try to get the feedback of your customers to find out what branding details are causing a hindrance to their customer journey and what elements they’d like to keep and/or change. 

For example, your content materials may use high-level professional language with a lot of jargon, which may cause difficulty for your customers to follow through. 

Consider running incentivized surveys or enlisting the help of your brand loyalists to get customer feedback. 

Alternatively, you can also take a look at what your competitors are doing to find out what branding elements you like on their website/social media pages and how you can replicate those details for your own brand. 

Step 3: Develop a brand story

Next up — the actual task of creating a brand guide begins! 

Start with a brand story — this story highlights the mission, vision, goals, history, and USP of your brand and allows all stakeholders to understand what makes you stand out from the crowd. 

Experts recommend enlisting storytelling techniques that drive emotions and help create a genuine connection with the brand.  

For example, Ben and Jerry’s About Us page is a classic example of what a brand story should look like as it takes the reader on a journey through the decades and shares the issues they care about. They also have a separate page on their brand activism and company core values: 


To create such brand stories for your company, here’s a reference infographic that highlights the key elements you should consider:


Step 4: Identify the elements that need to be included

This section will make up the bulk of your brand guide. At this stage, you’ll need to strategize and decide on the following details (and sub-details):

  • Brand Function 
    1. Mission/vision statement
    2. Company values
    3. Product and company USP

  • Brand Identity Elements
    1. Logo variations (primary, secondary, grayscale, etc.)
    2. Logo usage guidelines (size, placement, spacing)
    3. Color palette with color codes (primary, secondary, accent colors)
    4. Typography guidelines (approved fonts, font sizes, font pairings)
    5. Imagery style (photography, illustrations, graphics)
    6. Image dimensions 
    7. Iconography

  • Messaging and Voice
    1. Tone of voice (+ which tone is acceptable on which platform)
    2. Company messaging
    3. Brand tagline or slogan

  • Visual Application
    1. Brand collateral templates (business cards, letterheads, envelopes)
    2. Presentation templates
    3. Social media graphics templates
    4. Email signature guidelines
    5. Packaging design guidelines

  • Digital Branding
    1. Website design elements (layout, colors, fonts)
    2. Social media branding guidelines (profile picture, cover photo, post design)
    3. Email marketing templates

  • Brand Usage Guidelines
    1. Brand guidelines for print and digital applications (e.g., some companies refuse to partner with websites that exclusively create content relating to gambling, adult work, or illegal activities). 
    2. Brand do’s and don’ts 

  • Brand Assets
    1. High-resolution logo files (in various formats such as .ai, .eps, .png, .jpg)
    2. Color swatches or color codes
    3. Font files or links to download fonts
    4. Photography or imagery resources (some companies may have subscriptions to a few stock photo companies)

  • Brand Strategy
    1. Target audience personas
    2. Competitive analysis
    3. Brand positioning statement
    4. Brand roadmap or strategic plan

  • Brand Management
    1. Guidelines for maintaining brand consistency over time
    2. Procedures for updating the brand guide as needed
    3. Approval process for brand-related materials

  • Legal and Compliance
    1. Trademark information
    2. Usage rights and permissions for third-party assets
    3. Compliance with industry regulations and standards
    4. Restricted or negative keywords
    5. Correct and incorrect terminologies 

Step 5: Include templates and resources users can refer to

At this stage, try to include templates your teams can refer to. For example, while you may mention brand do’s and don’ts — do you have any examples of what these do’s and don’ts look like in real life? 

Similarly, you might also need design templates of what your company’s branding looks like in real life. For example, a template for an email signature could look something like this: 


Step 6: Edit for clarity, purpose, and structure

Once all details are set in stone, now’s the time to send the guide to a trusted editor who can proofread your work, edit it for clarity and purpose, and structure and format it well. 

At this stage, you can again get the input of a brand strategist to confirm if everything is looking A-OK. 

Step 7: Forward it to the right teams

Lastly, the only step that remains after creating your brand guide is to send it forward to the right teams. These will mostly be your marketing, graphic, branding, and creative teams, as well as outside contractors who support your content efforts. 

Support your brand guide with Filecamp

We know we already discussed all the steps of creating a brand guide, but there’s another thing you should consider: Where will you store all the digital assets you’re creating for the brand guide?

Because let’s be honest with ourselves — ‌ the brand guide is a comprehensive document, and if you couple that with the added visuals and resources you want to include in it, it becomes a heavy file that can no longer be supported on a basic PPT. 

We have an answer to this conundrum: Leverage Filecamp’s services to store your brand guides, visual assets, and resources and share them easily with internal and external teams — in fact, our software was specifically made for this task! 

To see if Filecamp’s services can help you out, start with a free 30-day trial and see for yourself what we have to offer.

Joanne Camarce

Joanne Camarce

Joanne Camarce grows and strategizes B2B marketing and PR efforts @ codeless.io. She loves slaying outreach campaigns and connecting with brands like G2, Wordstream, Process Street, and others. When she's not wearing her marketing hat, you'll find Joanne admiring Japanese music and art or just being a dog mom.
Published April 24, 2024

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