A brand book is focused exclusively on the design aspect, that explains the brand’s identity and presents brand standards. It could be a monotonous process but its long-term benefits are well worth the effort.
So you’re looking for ways to give your brand a boost and that’s when you encountered the term “brand book.” Now you’re wondering if a brand book is something that your business needs.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find answers to the questions you want to ask, including what a brand book is, why it is important, plus a step by step guide on how you can create one for your business.
So, What’s a Brand Book?
In a nutshell, a brand book is like an instruction manual for the purposes of establishing your brand’s identity and ensuring that the same brand identity is reflected in all the aspects of your business. This is crucial if you want your image and your message to always be consistent, no matter what angle your business is being viewed from.
A brand book covers these elements:
Brand Identity - includes your core values, mission, and your target audience.
Visual guidelines - Include your chosen color palette, any background images or style, specific spacing, font, images, and your logo, among others. The brand guide should also indicate where and how these brand assets should be used.
Communication guidelines - Include the language you’re using, readability, tone of voice, editorial style, and more.
Why A Brand Book is a Must-Have for Your Business?
Whether you are starting a brand new company or strengthening your B2C or your B2B strategy and rebranding, a brand book is something that you shouldn’t do without. Here are some of the reasons a brand book is considered essential to any business.
A. It Sets the Rules for Everyone
Having some rules set is good for your business. These rules serve as guidelines for everyone in your company, across all roles, so there would be no confusion. Unnecessary questions and clarifications that could eat up time can be avoided when you have a brand book ready at all times.
All businesses go through changes. At some point, you are going to have to have new employees especially as your business expands. Explaining what your brand and brand image are all about can be tedious and a brand book can make the whole thing easier for you.
B. It Helps You Send a Consistent Message
Your brand image and the message that you send out to your audience is made up of different elements. You have different people in your team handling each of these elements. You have your web design team, your graphic designers, your content writers.
It’s going to be hard for those pros to produce outputs that are aligned if there’s no brand book to keep them reminded of your guidelines. When all the departments in your company have access to a set of guidelines that everyone follows, you can be confident that you are sending out a cohesive and consistent message.
C. It Can Help Boost Brand Recognition
Whether it’s a swoosh, three stripes, a bitten apple, or any other popular logo, it’s proof that when done right, proper branding does bring you that instant recognition that you want. Mind you, it’s not just logos. Did you know that the use of color raises your brand recognition by 80%?
The use of the golden arch by McDonald’s and Starbucks’ green twin-tailed siren are two great examples of how color is also key to brand association. It is therefore important that you have consistent branding that is strong and recognizable and having brand guidelines in place will help your company establish the brand that you want your audience to identify and easily recall.
What format would work best for your company and your employees? There are a few things to be considered here. For one, the resources that you have right now.
Also of importance is the needs of your company. You may choose to have a printed brand book. You may also opt for a soft copy that you can easily distribute to your employees or one that’s always available on your server.
2. Figure out what you want to include in your brand book
You already know the basics that your brand book should have, as mentioned at the beginning of this article. Now let’s delve more into this. While every brand has its own needs, yours should still include these:
Brand Identity/All About Your Brand
Vision - What are your plans for the future? How do you want your future to look?
Values - What principles do you stand by in your company and how do they guide your behavior.
Brief Company History and Milestones that you believe everyone in the company should know about.
Fonts and Typography - What fonts do you want to use for your logo and taglines?
Photography, Iconography, Illustration, Videos - Which ones should be used for your website, blogs, brochures, and promotional products? Do you have an approval procedure before any of these can be posted or printed?
Web Design - How should your website look like, including the format, spacing, and other design aspects?
Color Palette - Which colors can be used for your brand
Logo/s - Which logo/s should be used, are there any variations allowed, and how should they be used?
All of these should be answered in your brand guidelines.
Tone of voice you want to be used for your content.
Any taglines that should be used.
Templates that you want to use or standard service or product descriptions.
How you want to communicate with your audience via social media, email, etc.
Any specific elements you want to include. For instance, what words should never be used or what industry terms should your team try to incorporate in your content, and more.
3. Work on Your Initial Draft
Before you start the actual layout of your brand book, you should at least have your initial draft ready. This draft will give you a glimpse of what your brand book would look like. If you are working with a team for this project, show them your draft and ask for their honest opinion.
Now is the best time to discuss options and make some alterations, if there are any changes necessary. You can also make use of images and brand book examples that your team can use for reference or comparison.
Remember that your brand book should be a reflection of the guidelines stated on its pages. Only when all the elements of your initial draft are approved should you move to the next step.
4. Create Your Brand Book
Now that your draft is finalized you start the actual making of your brand book. Make sure that it has all the details you want covered but in a way that it won’t overwhelm the people who would read it.
Let design do the heavy work. Make use of images and illustrations instead of lengthy explanations. The simpler your guidelines are the easier it will be for your employees to understand them.
Check out this brand book page for writing different kinds of copy for C5.
5. Update Your Brand Book When Needed
As your brand changes and grows, your brand book should reflect that growth, too. It’s easy to forget about your brand book when you are too busy dealing with other aspects of your business.
That’s why you should make it a point to have scheduled reviews with your brand team to ensure that the guidelines you have on your brand book are still applicable. If there are parts of it that aren’t working anymore, feel free to make the necessary changes.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Brand Book?
As discussed above, there are a number of benefits that a company can reap from having a brand book. Here are some of the advantages that you can look forward to when you have a brand book:
When your brand image and message is consistent, people become more aware of your brand and your products become more recognizable.
Thanks to the cohesiveness of your message and the brand recognition that comes with it, as time passes and the more they see your brand, the more your audience trusts you. After all, consumers trust brands that are more consistent.
With a brand book to reference, your company’s creatives won’t have to spend as much time deciding on design-related tasks as all the important decisions have already been made and a standard is already set. So as they won’t have to spend hours comparing fonts or trying different writing styles, their efficiency will increase, too.
Risk of Getting Pigeonholed
There aren’t many disadvantages to having a detailed brand book for your business, except perhaps the risk of getting pigeonholed as just one thing. This is not a problem per se if you are trying to establish your image, but it could be when you want to transition into something other than what you have become known for.
The Creation of a Brand Book Could Take Time
A brand book is not going to come with the SEO proposal from a third-party team. You, with the help of your team of creatives, would have to dedicate time to create one. This could take a chunk of your time and it could be a tedious task. Of course, it’s going to be worth all the effort when you complete your brand book.
Similar to how marketing automation tools can be really helpful with tasks like monitoring the progress of your marketing efforts, a brand book is also really useful as it makes the task of building a brand that’s distinguishable so much easier.
The idea of condensing your brand’s identity and putting all the elements that make your brand what it is in a brand book can be overwhelming but it can be done. Remind yourself of its benefits and how it’s going to make design and marketing tasks in the future easier for you and your team and you surely won’t mind exerting some effort in making one.
Manuel is the senior author and one of the editors of the Design Doxa team. His writing proficiency covers the topics about social media, digital marketing, technology and mobile applications. When he is not writing you can see him in his garden with his plants to refresh with nature.