Brand Guidelines: A Practical Overview (Part 1)

Brand Guidelines

If brand management is part of your job description you know how difficult it can be to ensure the brand message is consistently reflected across internal departments, marketing agencies and, most importantly, the target audience.

Moreover, it takes time and effort to communicate what the brand is all about, how is it different from the competitors, what the brand values are, and how these values should be promoted to the target audience.

I believe that developing brand guidelines are a must for every company that is seriously committed to building a strong brand. Often overlooked, these documents help the brand manager maintain the consistency of the brand portfolio by ensuring that people who come in contact with the brand will not alter its essence.

What Are Brand Guidelines?

Also known as brand manuals or brand standards, brand guidelines summarize what the brand is all about from a strategic perspective and provide detailed instructions on how brand identity elements such as the logo, color scheme and fonts should be developed, used, and communicated.

Why Should Your Company Care?

Your company should create standards for all the brands in its portfolio in order to:

  • Ensure the brand message is reproduced correctly, consistently, and in line with the company objectives across different departments, communication channels and suppliers
  • Help graphic designers create a unified “look and feel” for all marketing communication materials
  • Allow the designers to focus on elements where he/she can add value and eliminates unnecessary changes made for the sake of being different
  • Provide company employees with focus and direction
  • Save marketers time and increases their productivity
  • Provide a one stop source of information about the brand to the new employees, marketing agencies and other service providers involved in representing the brand

Who Will Benefit?

The document will benefit every person who is involved in managing, interacting and representing the brand:

  • Company employees
  • Outside service providers: graphic designers, web designers, social media experts, industrial designers, product managers
  • Franchisees

Who Is Involved in Creating The Guidelines?

The Marketing department in collaboration with the agency of record is usually responsible for putting together the document.

However all departments should be involved in the process. Company employees should be trained to become brand ambassadors since their buy-in is needed to ensure consistency in communicating the brand message.

Final Considerations

Since the document is distributed to a wide audience with diverse backgrounds, the brand guidelines should be written in a language that is easy to understand. Effective brand guidelines include many examples and are“visual”, rather than a long and boring collection of meaningless sentences.

The guidelines should be accessible by all the parties involved in the brand’s strategy and communication. Don’t forget to distribute them to every new employee and service provider. Many companies choose to make the guidelines publicly available, which show professionalism and dedication to building a strong brand image.

Part 2 of this post will provide a detailed look at the contents of a comprehensive brand guidelines document.


  1. Hi Mary,

    Thank you for your kind words and suggestion. I will consider it. In the meantime you might be interested in the “Brand Positioning 1 on 1” workshop.


  2. Mary Kiilu says:

    Michael, your tutorials are very informative and helpful in brand management. I am a beneficiary and am glad to have met and known you. My job as a Brand Manager is interesting with your brand garnishing. keep it up. Is it possible to design an accredited Brand Marketing management course, even if it is online? Am sure there are many marketers who would like to take such course.


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