How to build a brand guide you’ll actually use

Take Your Brand Guide From Zero to Hero

We hate to break it you, but logos aren’t magical. No matter how stunning and drop-dead-gorgeous your logo is, it’s not going to make much of an impact on its own.

True brand strength requires some braiding – each individual strand of strategy, messaging, positioning and design needs to be woven together to achieve a Repunzel-like super strength.

A well-designed brand guide can be essential to unleashing your brand potential. It acts as an instruction manual for you, your staff and vendors on how to use each element of your brand to tell a compelling brand story. But let’s be honest, when was the last time you actually read an instruction manual?

To be the most effective, a brand guide needs to something you and your team will actually use, so here are a few tips to transform your guide from zero, to brand story hero.

Share your passion

A brand guide may never make it onto the Times bestsellers list, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have compelling character and intriguing storylines. Like any piece of good copywriting, your brand guide should be organized, with a clear narrative, and reflect the passion and purpose that drives your business. Your mission, vision and values are not lifeless statements to include in a business plan, but should add color and life to your story. 

With this approach a brand guide can also double as an on-boarding guide for new staff, provide content for investor pitch decks or transform into a cheat-sheet guide for partners and vendors.

Digital for the win

A beautiful printed, hard-cover brand guide will look great on your coffee table – but that’s all it will achieve. Effective brand guides must be functional, not decorative. Digital brand guides can easily be shared, updated and linked to brand assets like font files and templates (we like to use cloud-based file sharing services like Dropbox). PDF’s are still suitable for most businesses, but for more complex brands, consider upgrading to a brand microsite.

Plan for evolution

As your business evolves, your brand guide will need to evolve to. Plan ahead for new sub-brands, design revisions and messaging by scheduling regular updates to your brand guide – once a year is good for most businesses. Digital brand guides can also be easily expanded to include add-ons, such as a Knowledge Banks or branded video examples. 

Create a cheat-sheet

Comprehensive brand guides can be overwhelming with their level of detail (Hyatt Hotel’s brand guide even lists the number of q-tips that should be left in each hotel bathroom). To avoid brand guide fatigue, a one-sheet cheat-sheet that lists the brand basics is a handy addition. Aim to include key brand messages and descriptions for easy copy/paste and keep it free of branding jargon.  

Your Brand Guide Needs a Little Love?

Get in touch with the Pretty Lethal team