Brand Guidelines – Build your own style guide in 1 hour
Create your own style guide and brand guidelines kit in 1 hour or less … for free!
Brand guidelines help you share your brand with the world. When an online publication wants to feature your business, it helps to have your logo and instructions on using it easily accessible. When you’re partnering with other companies it also helps to have photos of our executive staff ready for press releases. A set of brand guidelines in a style guide or brand guidelines kit gives your business the best chance of looking good in joint ventures with partners and the press. In addition to logos and photos, your brand guidelines can also include which fonts your brand uses and what your social media pages look like.
Many small and medium businesses don’t have all their brand assets in one place. It sounds funny, but it’s true. Brand asset management is the name for the system of gathering all the important logos, photos, and information for your business. With Filecamp you get a complete brand asset management system. You can easily create a set of brand guidelines using Filecamp.
In fact, we’ve setup every Filecamp account with a set of brand guidelines you can customize and replace and to create your own brand style guide. In this how-to, we’ll show you how can create a style guide for your brand in less than 1 hour using Filecamp and the set of brand guidelines we’ve prepared for you.
Free, pre-configured online brand kit with 100MB storage
Filecamp is a business file sharing service, digital asset management system and image library. Filecamp is better than Dropbox and similar solutions. Your company files, images, and media are presented in an attractive online portal that you can customize for your brand. We help many of our clients, including brands like the Wall Street Journal, to share their brand guidelines online.
As you can see in the image above – we put together a ready-made brand guidelines kit, which anyone can use to set up their own brand portal in no time. We’re providing it completely free with 100MB of storage.
It looks nice (in our humble opinion :) and has ready-made folders just waiting for your logos, layout instructions, executive team photos, etc.
But before we show you how to get and use our brand guidelines kit, we’ll share some recommendations about what your bare-bones brand guidelines kit should contain.
33 must-have items for your online brand guidelines kit
Brand guidelines can be very elaborate, with instructions and illustrations spanning hundreds of pages (check out these examples from CreativeBlog). But most companies can make do with much less. Here’s what we recommend for a bare-bones brand guidelines kit.
Download our brand guidelines cheat sheet PDF – a handy reference with all 33 items we describe below.
Brand guidelines – the basics
It’s imperative that brand guidelines clearly express the identity of your brand and remain consistent across all aspects. This means the same typography on the logo, on the website, on your business cards, and so on. It means that your websites and apps follow the same overall structure and styling. It doesn’t mean that you and your creative team cannot design interesting variations of your brand. For instance, you might want to make a version of your logo to promote a specific sporting event or an upcoming holiday season.
To clarify brand guidelines, try to create a document that defines general usage. For example, to define the typography of a blog post on your website, you’ll most likely specify 2-3 distinctive fonts and/or sizes; the title of the post will typically be larger; the header (Headline 1) of the post will be a different size; the subheaders will be smaller; and so on.
But, consistency is key and it’s important that the brand remain true to its roots.
For the sake of company teams that are not involved in marketing (IT teams for example) be sure to include:
- A mission statement or company overview explaining the company vision
- Any videos that define your product or service
- Sample corporate materials
The color palette should contain the basic color scheme used for your websites, apps and any templates or promotional materials. In many cases, it should also contain secondary color schemes (additional colors) that are used peripherally, say for company mascots vs. the standard logo. Notice how Tapiki’s company blog has a specific color palette of orange and gray. However, their secondary color palette for their mascot monster has a whole additional set of colors.
Be sure to include:
- Primary color palette
- Secondary color palette
- Photo or illustration style
Provide Pantone (PMS), RGB, HEX, and CMYK equivalents of the colors in your color palette for varied uses.
Company fonts should include all variations of website and app fonts which often differ from printed fonts. Be sure to include:
- Typography style
- Corporate typefaces
- Supporting elements
- Spacing requirements
- Font colors
Include typeface size, line height, etc. Be sure to specify fonts that can be used in header vs. body text, online, offline, and so on.
Logos are the entryway to your entire brand identity. Specify placement and add alternative versions. Be sure to include:
- Primary logo
- Horizontal and vertical representations of your logo with and without tagline, as needed
- Secondary and supporting logos (e.g. black & white logo, transparent logo)
- Varying logo sizes (color: preferred and variations; positive, reverse, 4-color, 1-color)
- Product names/logos where applicable
- Acceptable logo sizes and variation sizes
- Square version of the logo (if original logo is not square)
Infographics are an integral part of a brand identity. They help companies build authority, and present a visual representation that helps users understand complex data. Infographics can easily go viral, be used in presentations, attract backlinks and help generate higher traffic. Be sure to include all key infographics related to your brand:
- Products or services and their position in your industry
- Process flow
- Step by step instructions
- Statistical analysis told in images
Web and app screenshots are important to include, because while marketing, graphic designers and webmasters might know your website and apps backwards and forwards, an executive assistant (for example) may never enter that portal and be unfamiliar with the user interface. In fact there can be entire teams within your company who have limited interaction with parts of your website and the product itself. Be sure to include:
- Screenshots of the website. If your website has multiple templates, include screenshots of all of them.
- Product/app design and interface (be sure to include any mobile app screenshots as well).
This section is often available publicly, used on site, included in company materials like brochures, marketplaces, etc. Be sure to include:
- Quality images – high resolution
- Multiple product images
- Provide a document or caption explaining what each product is and what it’s used for
(Also provide a document with short lines of text describing each image, which your webmaster can use as meta tags when they upload the images for you. This is important for SEO purposes.)
Today, social media icons are a major aspect of a brand identity. If you have specially designed social media icons for your
website, add them so your team knows not to use the de-facto generic versions.
Be sure to include:
- Social icons – web and app style
- Twitter profile background
- Facebook background
- Other social media profile backgrounds and images
Headshots of key company leaders is integral. These images are used on site, for press, for mission statements and even for investment outreach efforts. Be sure to include images, names and titles of key company leaders such as:
- Board members / advisors
Layout and templates
Templates are important for teams in order to maintain consistency company-wide in all types of communication, from accounting forms to white papers to business cards. Be sure to include templates and requirements for:
- Product catalogs
- Product spec sheets
- Customer case studies
- White papers
- Press releases
- Video introductions and closings
- Purchase orders
- Ads (printed or online)
- Trade show and event displays
- Promotional items
- Email signatures
- Business cards, standard
- Letterhead, standard
- Any Microsoft® Office templates: Word®, Excel®, PowerPoint®, Visio®
How to best present your brand guidelines? Some inspiration
We have a few favorite references for building awesome brand guidelines.
Smashing Magazine has a great article about branding which offers several reminders to often overlooked aspects in the creation of brand guidelines – like the establishment of a company voice. Smashing Magazine’s article discusses the nitty-gritty of branding down to content creation and company tone, with the excellent recommendation of creating a copywriting guide.
LogoLoveDesign collected a series of brand identity style guides from around the world. From Adobe to Skype to Twitter, this compilation is a great reference to see how brands and their guidelines evolve.
And the Queen of brand guidelines – Saatchi & Saatchi Designs, has the ultimate checklist about how to approach the actual design and messaging of your brand and then translate it into a brand guideline.
Getting Filecamp’s free brand guidelines kit
To access Filecamp’s free kit, sign up for your free Basic account (no credit card required).
Your free brand guidelines portal will look like this:
The thumbnails represent folders in Filecamp’s online file sharing system. You can upload your brand materials to these folders, and easily custom-brand the system to carry your logo. Each folder has a URL you can share with press, partners, employees, etc. – by accessing this URL they can view the files and easily download them.
Inside your brand guidelines kit, we’ve already prepared the essential folders you’ll need, with example files, which you can remove and replace with your own materials:
- Brand Guidelines Folder – will include the brand identity of your site, app or product
- Color Palette Folder – primary and secondary color palette, color codes, etc.
- Fonts Folder – typography style and fonts used in your brand materials
- Logos Folder – primary logos, secondary logos and usage instructions
- Infographics Folder – put all infographics related to your brand here
- Screenshots Folder – screenshots of your site or app
- Products Folder – illustrations of your products and their usage
- Social Media Folder – your customized social icons, backgrounds, etc.
- Executive Team Folder – images of company leaders
Download our brand guidelines cheat sheet PDF – a handy reference with 33 items you should include in the folders above.
How to add your brand guidelines into the kit
Now that you have your account set up, you can replace our example files and images with your own. Let’s take the Social Media folder (#9) for example.
Double click to open it. Inside you will find 3 sample files.
- A branded Facebook background
- A branded Twitter background
- An example of a full set of social media icons.
You should then replace our recommended placeholder files with your company-branded materials. Be sure to check each social site’s sizing specifications, as they often differ from site to site.
Your Facebook files can include the profile image (often a company logo), a background cover photo and any other photos you want uploaded to your Facebook album(s) to show off your products or services.
Your Twitter files can include a well-designed Twitter background, a profile image (often a company logo), a background cover photo, and a document with the company profile description.
Your Social Media icons file can include the images and specifications for all social media icons that you have on your website. Of course you can add any other images related to your social media efforts.
Removing example files and uploading your own materials
Erasing the example images
To delete the example image from inside the folders, first double double-click to enter the folder. Right-click on the file you wish to discard and select ‘Delete’. If you want to erase all the sample images at once, press Control+A to select all of them, then right click and ‘Delete’.
Uploading your own images to the folder To upload new images or files to the folder, click on ‘upload’. Select the files you want to upload to the current folder and click ‘open’. The files will be transferred to Filecamp’s cloud storage so they can be easily accessed by anyone.
Branding the system with your own logo (easy!)
To brand your Filecamp account with your logo, enter the Control Panel and click “Branding”.
The ‘Branding’ screen appears;
Double click on the placeholder logo strip. The ‘Enter your site title’ screen appears, allowing you to upload your custom logo strip – under ‘logo’ – and optionally your favicon. You’ll need to specify the height of your topbar via the ‘Topbar pixel height’. Our image is set to – 90 pixels height by 2500 pixels width. Make sure you have an image of your logo with those size specifications prepared and ready to go. Also, under ‘Logo click URL’, type the URL of your corporate website – people will go there when they click your logo at the top. When done, click ‘Save’.
Note: You will have to log out and log in again to see the changes. To learn more about custom branding with Filecamp, click here.
Adding folders and changing folder thumbnails (optional)
Need additional folders beyond the basic ones we set up for you? You can also upload additional files or add a new folder. Click ‘Files’ in the navigation bar on the left hand side to go back to the main page of the portal. Then click ‘Add Folder’ on at the upper right-hand side to add a new folder to your dashboard or inside any folder. Or, click ‘Upload’ to add a new file inside the selected folder.
Do you want to make your press kit look different? You can customize the image thumbnails we selected for each of the folders. Just right right-click the folder and hit click ‘Edit’.
On the ‘Edit’ screen, click on ‘remove thumbnail’, then upload the image thumbnail you want to use for the folder. This will appear on the main page of your brand guidelines portal. Be sure to click ‘Save’, that’s all there is to it.
(You can also opt to keep some folders private – for example, if they contain internal company documents – and mark others as public, like a Press Kit folder that you can share with journalists). Learn more about Filecamp’s folder permissions.
That’s it! In less than an hour, you will have a structured brand guidelines kit that you can share company wide.