BUSINESS

September 2, 2022

Ross Henderson

Ross is an executive-level business analyst and copywriter.

Brand Guidelines: What Are They, And Why Do You Need Them?

If your business works with external content creators of any kind, you need brand guidelines. Building a brand takes an immeasurable amount of time and effort. But as your business grows, you’ll need to entrust the work of building and maintaining the brand you’ve created to other people. 

That could be a marketing agency, a co-branding campaign partner, a freelancer, or social media influencers. Regardless of how many partners you work with, successfully managing a brand is all about consistency. Adopting brand guidelines is a simple way to ensure that every partner sticks to the core pillars and ethos of the brand. 

You might think brand guidelines are something reserved for much more mature companies. And while it’s true that mature businesses often have very rigorous brand guidelines, there’s nothing stopping you from creating brand guidelines of your own. 

But what exactly is a brand guidelines document, and what elements do you need to include? Read on to discover the answers to those questions and learn how you can create your own brand guidelines. 

What Are Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines are a set of rules and processes that specify how various elements of your company’s brand should be presented to the outside world. 

These guidelines are usually hosted in one centralized document that is periodically updated as your business grows and changes. They may be produced by a branding agency as part of a rebranding process. Alternatively, they could be produced internally by the marketing or brand management team. 

By adopting brand guidelines, businesses can ensure that their brand is consistently represented everywhere. This helps to build a more cohesive identity of what the brand stands for in the minds of potential customers. Without brand guidelines, the meaning of the brand will constantly be changing with every variation of the logo or change in tone. That means confused customers, and that’s bad for business. 

You may also see brand guidelines referred to as brand style guides, or purely from a content standpoint, an editorial style guide. 

What Should Be Included In Brand Guidelines?

If you’re working with a large brand, you might find that the brand guidelines document is dozens of pages long. Don’t worry––you don’t have to memorize it. Instead, use the document as a reference tool to check your work against. 

Brand guidelines often cover a huge variety of elements. These include:

  • Brand Identity: the brand’s mission statement and purpose. This section may also include the core values of the brand. 
  • Brand Voice and Tone: the style of communication used by the brand. How does the brand talk to customers? Is it conversational or formal? Does the brand use the active or the passive voice?
  • Logo Usage: permitted uses, sizes, colors, and more. Some brands have multiple logos, and this portion of the brand guidelines specifies how and when to use each of them. 
  • Color Palette: the colors used by the brand in web design, ads, communications, and more. This section usually includes a primary and a secondary color palette. 
  • Typography: a list of permitted fonts and sizes. Some brands have multiple fonts that are used for different purposes. 
  • Trademarks: a list of all registered trademarks and guidelines on how to reference them.
  • Grammar and Punctuation: Oxford comma or no Oxford comma? Whichever you choose, specify it in your brand guidelines. 

At first, it’s unlikely you’ll have concrete rules for all of these areas. That’s fine––you can figure things out as you go. But as your brand starts to scale and you start to work with more and more people, brand guidelines are crucial in making sure that everyone is moving in the same direction.

Using Brand Guidelines for Content Writing

If your business is in the process of launching a content strategy, brand guidelines are important in keeping your writers on track. Content writing is much more complex than other forms of marketing. Without the right guidelines, there’s a lot of scope for the brand to be misrepresented. 

Outlining brand guidelines in a simple document will not only make life easier for your writers, but it’ll also seriously cut down the amount of time you have to spend on edits. When you work with talented professional writers, they’ll effortlessly incorporate the style and tone of your brand communications. In many cases, you’ll find that they elevate it to new levels. 

Looking for a team of writers with the skills to launch a content strategy for your business? Reach out to the team at Hire a Writer to learn more about how we can help.

Get started today.

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