So, you want to build a brand guide. Well, before you dive in, there’s a lot to consider. Beyond choosing a nice logotype or strong colors for your website, you need to establish clear and consistent brand guidelines. Brand guidelines set out best practices for how your company communicates visually and in writing.
Ideally, these brand guidelines will be presented in what’s called a brand book — which should lay out your company’s mission statement, personality, visual identity, and more. A brand book can be an important resource, both internally and for external partners and stakeholders.
Here at Wrike, we recently updated our brand guidelines as part of a corporate rebranding and we used our own platform to get the job done. At the end of June, we unveiled Wrike Reimagined — a corporate rebrand that has been many months in the making. Along with that brand refresh, our Marketing department launched a 109-page brand book explaining our vision, brand personality, and visual identity.
From redesigning and re-writing our website copy to drafting and finalizing our brand book, Wrike helped us collaborate every step of the way. If you’re thinking of establishing the brand guidelines for your business, Wrike can help. But first, here’s what you need to know about creating a brand guide.
Why is a brand guide important for a business?
A brand guide is a crucial element of corporate branding. It tells the who, what, why and even how of your business. Ideally, a brand guide should include:
- A manifesto or company mission statement,
- A rundown of the design and logo elements,
- And a style guide that creates consistency across platforms.
Brand guidelines are standard practice (95% of companies say they have one in place) but they are more impactful when used consistently. Unfortunately, sticking to the guidelines is another story. Only a quarter of that 95% say they actively enforce their style guide.
For example, having one set of fonts and brand colors on your company’s website but another set of fonts and colors on your social media accounts can look unprofessional, create confusion, and cost you business. In fact, half of the respondents in one survey said that customers and vendors “expect great design and consistent branding.”
Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Wrike, Kevin Lynch, believes brand guidelines and brand books are an important resource for any business.
“If you stop and think about all that a brand does for a company’s reputation, sales, value, and the perception it creates in the mind of our audience, you’ll understand how important it is that we have this resource and that people use it.”
What to include when writing your brand guidelines
When it comes to writing your own brand guidelines, there is no one size fits all solution. After all, you and your family members don’t all have the same personality, right? Brand guidelines should communicate something unique about your company and reflect the values and mission of your organization.
As previously mentioned, our brand book is a behemoth. Weighing in at 109 pages, it’s clear we had lots to say about our brand vision and our personality. But that’s just us.
Here are some tips on what to include in your own company’s brand guidelines and brand book.
Articulate your brand:
- Step 1: Brand vision statement
A brand vision is a short statement explaining what a company hopes to accomplish or facilitate for its customers. For example, Wrike’s vision is “a world where every person, team, and organization achieves their best.”
- Step 2: Brand mission statement
A brand mission statement is exactly what you’d expect. It’s what drives your organization. Wrike’s mission is to “help you do the best work of your life by reducing chaos and complexity through visibility, contextual collaboration, and automation.”
- Step 3: Key messaging/value proposition/brand story
Key messaging, value proposition, and brand story all provide essential context about your organization and how it plans to execute on its vision and mission.
Our brand story: Headquartered in San Jose, CA, Wrike is used by more 2M+ users and 20,000 organizations — including Google, Airbnb, L'Oréal, and Nike, across 140 countries, to do the best work of their lives.
Create a visual guide:
- Step 4: Logo
Everybody knows what a logo is but your brand guidelines should explain the do’s and don'ts of logo use and elaborate on some of its elements — including design, color, placement, and what it represents.
- Step 5: Color palette
Specific color and color combinations are known to elicit emotional reactions — even subconscious ones. So it’s only logical that you choose a color palette that speaks to the emotions that articulate your brand story and cultivate emotional reactions from your customers (confidence, prosperity, energy).
- Step 6: Typography
Typography is another visual choice that can help establish the visual identity of your
Set the style and tone:
- Step 7: Voice and tone
Essentially, brand voice is how your company communicates while tone is more contextual. For example, a brand’s voice may be described as “human”, “empowering”, or “professional”. They should maintain this voice over website, blog, and social media content. However, their tone may change depending on how they are addressing customers (i.e. a social media tone may be more laid back or informal than a customer email).
- Step 8: Style and usage
Does your company adhere to AP style or Chicago style in content marketing materials? Do you write landing pages and blog post headlines in title or sentence case? Defining these details are ways your brand can ensure consistency in their communications.
- Step 9: Persona
Personas are essentially short profiles of the type of customers your brand attracts or hopes to attract. They can provide crucial context for teams who develop new products or services within a business.
Wrike’s SVP of Marketing Saranya Babu says that a key part of this process is to make sure the essence of your brand shines through.
“The most important part was to bring our story, personality, and voice to life through content and visuals."
How to create a brand book for your business
Once you have defined your brand guidelines, one option is to design and release a digital (or even physical) brand book. This can be as simplistic as a PDF or Google Doc or as highly designed as you wish.
Our content and design teams worked closely over a number of months, collaborating across departments, offices, and time zones.
"There’s no way we could have created the brand book without Wrike,” explains Kevin who says, thanks to Wrike Proof, “the back and forth that takes place during the review process was fast and easy.”
“Being able to track edits ensured feedback was seen and addressed. Because there were so many assets moving from team to team, knowing where pieces were was vital. To top it off, the entire team was under shelter-in-place rules. Using Wrike, we did this entire project in self-isolation without ever being isolated.”
Wrike’s new brand guidelines took six months to write and were first drafted by Andrew Filev, our founder and CEO, and Saranya Babu.
“Both took an active role in reviewing and revising the subsequent drafts,” explains Kevin. “With about a month to go before launch the process of putting it all together began. We were proofing and making edits right up to the day it was launched.”
If your company has a dedicated design team, you can make the creation of your brand book an in-house project. A design contractor or outside design team can also help bring your brand vision to life.
“The Brand guide was actually the most time consuming project we had during the rebrand,” explains Wrike Design Lead, David Mekerishvili.
But working within our platform simplified the process. “Wrike keeps your mind free from thinking about ‘where can I find that, when do I need to do that, who does what’. Wrike is everyone’s best partner to get the single source of truth.”
To simplify the process, you may choose to split your brand book project into phases (content, design, proofing/edits/finalizing).
This can be handled directly within Wrike by creating a project or folder and adding tasks that correspond with what needs to be completed during a particular phase. By not taking on too much at once and even using dependencies (task B, design, cannot start until task A, book copy, is completed) your team can create a comprehensive brand book through streamlined, cross-team collaboration.
Wrike can help your team create consistent brand guidelines and a beautiful brand book
Creating a set of guidelines that address the look, the tone, and vision of your organization is important — both internally and externally. Customers expect brand consistency and teams within your organization expect resources that define best practices.
Launching a brand book project is easy with Wrike. Our platform helps keep phases, tasks, and assets organized and shortens review cycles with in-context proofing and approvals.
Developing your brand is a huge undertaking. Make sure you have the right tools to get it all done. Try Wrike completely free for two weeks and see why creative teams all over the world trust Wrike to accomplish the best work of their lives.