Create a brand manual
1. Identify who will be using your brand manual so that you can shape your guidelines to meet their needs.
For example, web designers need color codes for your color palette, while copywriters are more interested in whether to use the oxford comma in your content.
2. Discuss your branding with executives and across multiple teams to source the information for the manual.
For example, check with the legal team about logo trademark guidelines and ask your marketing team about brand messaging.
3. Decide whether the brand manual will be digital or print.
A print version of your brand manual is helpful for internal purposes, but a digital version is easier to send externally. A digital brand manual can also be designed to be more interactive with hyperlinks and buttons.
4. Include your company's mission, values, and brief history.
This will set the tone for your brand and help others understand how your design decisions fit with your brand’s story.
5. Add instructions for how to properly use your brand's logo.
This could include acceptable color variations, minimum sizes, and how much space to use around your logo. You can also include examples of what not to do with your logo. For example, Spotify’s brand manual focuses heavily on logo restrictions and attribution rules for legal reasons.
6. Add your brand's color palette and fonts. If you will be creating brand assets for print, digital, and merchandise, include all versions of your brand's color codes.
Hex: a six-digit code that represents different combinations of red, green, and blue, for example, #000000. RGB: short for Red, Green, and Blue, RGB is a representation of how colors should appear on a computer screen. CMYK: short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, these color values are best for print. Pantone: Pantone color codes ensure consistent color matching for designers, printers, and manufacturers. Include the names of the fonts you use for different purposes. For example, you may use one font for titles and headings and another font for body text. You should also include font sizes and instructions for when to use bold text or light text.
7. Include buyer persona profiles and messaging guidelines.
Knowing your target audiences will help the individuals who work on your brand understand how to convey your brand’s information and connect with the right people. For example, Ben & Jerry’s brand manual clarifies that their target audience is not kids. Instead, they are targeting an adult’s inner kid, so use words like ooey-gooey to be playful and descriptive.
8. Outline your brand's voice and writing guidelines.
For example, a fashion brand may want their messaging to feel friendly and casual, while a banking institution may want to appear more corporate and professional. You should also provide examples of words you like and don’t like, like Facebook’s style guide that specifies the language that should be used when talking about Facebook.
9. Define the types of imagery that are appropriate for your brand to establish its aesthetic.
Provide examples of photographs that represent your brand. For example, you may prefer abstract photos over images of people and places. If your brand uses a lot of illustrations, infographics, or video content, provide stylistic guidelines for how to approach them. For example, Zendesk’s brand manual covers their filming and editing philosophy, shooting guidelines, and editing preferences.