As part of our series on developing brand guidelines, we first look at:

What do brand guidelines actually do? If we start by learning anything about branding, we can say a brand helps a company to unify its mission, values and visual style into a common approach. Its purpose is to become the perception of what the customers, visitors and audiences have towards a particular company.

Therefore, brand guidelines exist to help brand build strong trust, familiarity and relationship among its target audience. It is where a set of comprehensive rules help to explain a brand’s mission, and to show how brands should visually present themselves in a way which would help maintain a consistent, strong image for its audiences. Most important is helping brands to keep its message strong and unified across all media platform.

There are several forms of brand guidelines, from a traditional printed document to a digital format. The advantage of digital brand guidelines become easy to update and it is the most accurate way for companies to show the guidelines in practice, particularly related to their digital strategies or styles. In summary, having a brand guideline document in a digital format allows company to easily send them to suppliers such as sign companies and printers.

Here are a list of elements which you would normally find in a brand guideline: brand history, brand values, brand mission, visual styles, typeface choices and treatments, logo usage and style, visual style (such as whitespace, background colours etc), brand personality, tone of voice, imagery and colour palettes.

Using brand guidelines actively is just a way to help designers to keep every visual element of a brand in check, especially when designing for others as it is sometimes a challenge for designers to adapt their personal style into the required visual elements of brands.