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7 ways to build a successful brand guideline for your small business

7 ways to build a successful brand guideline for your small business

Thursday March 15, 2018,

5 min Read


What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the bitten apple of Apple or the well-known swoosh of Nike? You’ll easily associate the logo with the brand, even if their names aren’t explicitly mentioned. This is exactly what a consistent branding does: it establishes an image of your company in your customer’s eyes.

According to a study, brands that are uniformly presented are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility. 

So in order to make your brand identity more consistent, you need to create a brand guideline across all your marketing collaterals no matter the size of your business. This includes several elements such as logo, fonts, typography, imagery, and voice.

To get your branding right, use the following ways of putting up successful brand guidelines for your small business: 

1. Know your brand


“Know thyself” – When it comes to all things branding, this quote holds more weight than you think. It is definitely pointless investing time and money in developing your brand without first figuring out what your brand identity is.

So as a startup, you need to create a brand identity that works for you which you can use to influence your audience at every professional touch point. Your brand identity includes everything you would use to describe your company. 

For example:

Apple is innovative.

Coca-Cola is sharing happiness.

Disney is magical.

And the list goes on. Keep your brand identity social, unique and engaging.

Here’s an example from Acne Studios:

2. Create Your Mission and Vision

A powerful mission and vision help a business owner decide what he’d like to achieve with his business both in short and long-term. It is the soul of your brand that will form the why, what and how of your organizations and help drive meaningful decisions. It humanizes your brand; because it helps your customers understand what you care about, what your purpose is, and where you are taking your brand.

A strong vision should state the founder’s ultimate goals and how he envisions it to be in terms of growth, employees, and its impact on society.

Mission statements are concise enough that it would answer these three questions:

1. What do we do?

2. How do we do it?

3. For Whom Do we do it?

An example for this would be from Skype:

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3. Logo Usage  

When creating a logo for your brand, it is important to communicate across all your personal and consultants that your logo is a valuable piece of intellectual property, thus it needs to be used appropriately to maintain the integrity of a brand. A logo usage guideline is a set of guidelines that state the suitable way to use brands’ resources such as logos, names, and other assets of a company.

Logo Usage Guidelines from Adidas:

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Here are some examples of do’s and don’ts to include in your logo usage guidelines:


1. Provide the preferred presentation of the logo

2. Provide the minimum size of the logo

3. Ensure that the graphics you are using are the most current.

4. Provide a way to contact your company if people have questions about using your logo. 


1. Don’t design a logo yourself. If you need files, contact the company’s marketing team.

2. Don’t alter the logo files. Don’t skew, squeeze, and stretch.

3. Don’t change the signature colors of the brand.

4. Don’t distort, manipulate and alter the graphic in any way. 

4. Implement Color Palette

A color palette is a visual venue to express your brand’s personality. You don’t have to be a great designer to create an impactful colorful palette. Understanding psychology of colors can help create a unique set of emotional connections to your brand. 

Check out this color emotion guide by Coca-Cola:

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5. TypeFace Usage 

Choosing the right fonts and typeface for your brand will ensure that your content tells a story and personality. Each font delivers different messages, mood, so ask yourself the following questions in order to choose the best for your brand:

1. Context - Where will the type be used?

2. Content – What will be the message it will carry?

3. Clarity – How important are legibility and readability?

4. Character set – Does the typeface have all you need?

Typography Guidelines from Nike Football:

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6. Brand Photography

One of the greatest ways to express your brand’s identity is through visuals. It helps connect with your audience on an emotional level – that means implementing brand photography is essential to any branding, may it be for business or for personal.

When you have a limited budget, the most practical option is to use free stock photos, but if you have enough resources and timeline, you can outsource professionals who are very familiar with both product and lifestyle photography. 

Imagery Guidelines from H&M Trend:

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7. Brand’s Voice

By considering the tone of your communications and style of writing, you express the personality of your brand. Every brand should utilize a uniform writing style guide in their brand book. Here are some tips to help you create a strong, clear brand voice.

1. Define your voice’s personality

2. Listen before you write.

3. Inspire people using your voice.

4. Engage, be real.

Check the Urban Outfitters brand voice:

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The brand guidelines above will not only help you improve brand consistency but will also guide you in creating a stunning website and social media channels.

Use this as the checklist and as a head start to establish a brand culture across your network and help your brand stand out and build trust!