How to create branding guidelines

Very often, just by glancing at an advertisement and not even reading the text, you know exactly who is behind it. Our brains identify a brand by a specific set of colors, fonts, and images, which the company keeps unchanged. And so that over a long period of time there is no mixing of designs, and you continue to recognize the brand “by sight”, the style of the company is documented.

how to create branding guidelines


A guideline is an instruction (technical passport) for using the corporate identity (identity) of a company/brand. It contains detailed rules and standards for working with visual brand attributes (description of the logo, color combinations, fonts), including ready-made design solutions. This is a clear algorithm for designers and marketers in the case of revision of individual elements of the corporate identity or redesign. The guideline helps to keep the brand’s face unchanged and maintain visual contact with the audience. Communication with customers is built using advertising media.

What belongs to the media of corporate identity? In fact, it can be any materials related to the company’s activities. Consider a list of popular advertising media:

  • company product (labels, packaging);
  • advertising materials (brochures, shelf talkers);
  • various documentation (business cards, letterheads, envelopes);
  • on the Internet – website, email newsletters, social media pages;
  • souvenirs (calendars, pens, bags);
  • company interior and outdoor advertising, points of sale, uniforms;
  • transport.

The guideline can be done in print, in electronic form (as a PDF document), or as a presentation (as a PowerPoint document).

how to create branding guidelines


The guideline, brand book, and logo book – often marketers confuse all these concepts, although there is a concept that they can act as independent documents. Let’s see how they differ. A brand book is a broader concept than a guideline, and often the latter acts as an integral part of a brand book. But the main property of the brand book is the display of the mission, values ​​, and philosophy of the company, and the guideline serves to strictly adhere to the standards in the development and placement of corporate identity attributes. They also differ in purpose – the brand book is developed to a greater extent for the company’s employees and sometimes contains closed commercial information. A guideline is a guide for a wide range of users, including designers and marketers, who will collaborate with the company in the future.

The logo book is an even smaller component of the brand book and guideline, which looks like instructions for using exclusively the company logo (colors, fonts, placement, etc.).


Why develop a guideline at all? What advantages does it provide and does your company need it? Let’s consider the main advantages of having a ready-made document:

  1. It simplifies cooperation with marketers and designers when conducting advertising campaigns, and in the case of various modifications to the corporate identity.
  2. Brand awareness and loyalty to the company increase. Clear standards for color solutions and rules for the placement of attributes (logo, slogan) allow unifying all advertising media of the brand.
  3. Ensures that the “face” of the company remains unchanged. A clear framework for the use of brand style elements gives confidence in their identity across all advertising media.
  4. Advertising costs are reduced and the speed of preparation of advertising materials is increased. It is enough to describe all the nuances once and there will be no need to “reinvent the wheel” and pay money for it every time. And if all this is also on a tight schedule?
  5. The image of the company among clients, partners, and advertising companies is increasing
  6. If you plan to transfer your business to a franchisee, then a guideline is a must.

A long enough list to start thinking about standardizing your brand.

how to create branding guidelines


There are no strict rules for developing the structure of the guideline, but there are some key points that must be present in the document. These include:

  • description of the logo and standards for its placement on advertising media. Includes options: different sizes of the logo, execution in different colors (including b / w), on a different background. The size of the security zone around the logo is indicated;
  • the coding of the colors used and the possibility of their combinations;
  • list of fonts with styles;
  • graphic elements – a catalog of photographs and background screensavers, if they are present in the corporate style;
  • rules for the preparation of company documentation. It is especially important if there are regional divisions and the unification of document flow is required;
  • possible combinations of brand attributes for display on various advertising media (in printing, outdoor and online advertising, points of sale, souvenirs, transport, etc.);
  • a list of prohibited techniques and compositions – everything that is considered unacceptable for use in the company’s identity.


There may be two options – the guideline and the corporate identity are developed simultaneously and, preferably, by the same team. Or the company already has a corporate identity, and a guideline is created on its basis. In any case, before describing the object and the rules for working with it, the object must be created. First, a style is created, and then a standard for working with it. Let’s consider an approximate scheme of work on the development of a passport of standards:

  • a brief is drawn up (a detailed description of the task for the contractor) and a contractor is selected;
  • corporate identity is analyzed and divided into smaller elements;
  • all elements are described by a marketer with the assistance of a copywriter. The description explains in detail even banal, according to the author, moments;
  • with the help of the designer and layout designer, layouts of document pages are created, from which the guideline is ultimately formed;
  • the project is agreed with the representatives of the company and, if necessary, is printed in the printing house.

how to create branding guidelines


Services for the development of corporate identity and description of its standards are offered by design studios, branding agencies, digital companies, and freelancers.

Each company and its brand are individual, so the cost of each development is different and is discussed in detail with the contractor. The final cost of the project is influenced by a number of factors:

  • you need a full development of the corporate identity or just a guide;
  • how deeply is the development of identity required, are layouts and templates needed for printing;
  • the scope of the company (B2B, HoReCa, or B2C) and its scale;
  • allocated budget.

Some companies, if you order a complete strategy and corporate identity development, offer the guideline for free as a gift from the studio.

There are two types of guidelines: technical (the cost of development is cheaper) and communication. Their difference is that a slogan has been added to the communication view and additional elaboration of all elements of the identity is required.

On average, if the company already has a corporate identity, the cost of creating instructions only can be from 30 thousand rubles. With a more detailed development, this can be 200-300 thousand rubles. and more. You can find cheaper options from freelancers, but with this choice, you need to be prepared for low-quality work. However, there are exceptions.


How to determine that a document has been completed with high quality and meets the assigned tasks? Check the manual against the following criteria:

  • comprehensibility and accessibility to a wide audience;
  • ease of development of new attributes of corporate identity;
  • balance of information – it should be enough to understand the subject of study, but not too much so as not to get confused;
  • the leadership must have free space (growth points) for development and maneuver, the implementation of interesting design solutions within the framework of the standard;
  • remains relevant for a long time.


  1. In 2012, Microsoft rebranded and created simple guidelines for the use of its identity. The changes affected all products (OS, Office, TVs, phones, etc.) because any point of contact is a brand assessment. A very detailed guideline (the full brand book is 85 pages long) describes the rules for fonts, colors with shades and combinations, logo and its placement, contains photos and illustrations of the brand, prohibited designs, and much more.
  2. The development of Aeroflot was carried out back in 2008, but it still remains relevant. The guideline describes in detail the options for corporate fonts, logos, and brand names in a variety of combinations and colors. There is a detailed aircraft paint scheme with paint specifications.
  3. The Coca-Cola Company has developed a  guide that displays the typeface of the logo, a description, the four corporate colors, the rest of the fonts, advertising options on transport, point of sale, and other media.

Do not expect that creating a brand book or guideline will make your brand world-famous by magic. But it is a fact that will move you forward on the path of company recognition.

Develop detailed instructions on how to use your corporate identity and gain appreciation from marketers and designers, successful advertising campaigns, and improving your brand image.