How to create the ultimate brand guide

Brand guides are available add-ons for all of our logo Design Contests and bundles. This essential tool gives businesses and designers clear guidelines on how to communicate a brand effectively.
 
Let's learn how to create an awesome brand guide that will wow your client.

What is a brand guide?

A brand guide is the set of rules that an organization follows when presenting their brand to the world. It generally details things like the organization’s story, tone of voice and target audience to help a team represent the organization consistently.

Before you begin

Talk to your client

Some clients may not be aware of brand guide and its benefits, so be prepared to explain to them. We have relevant articles on our blog that your client can read to understand better - head to the bottom of this page for a list of further readings.

Set the right expectations

The next important thing is to understand your client's expectations - if they are after a basic brand guide, look no further than our template (available for download below). If they are after a more complex guide, then we encourage you to take the additional work to a separate project where you have the power to set the appropriate rate for you.
 
We recommend using 99designs' 1-to-1 Project platform for this type of conversation.

Do your research

We can't stress this enough - know the full story before you begin designing. Ask your client as many questions as you can to understand their brand, and make sure they give you all the important elements they already have that will assist your design process.

Divide and conquer

Generally, you handle the design aspects of a brand guide: this means the logo, brand color, font and in some cases, the image choices and the logo usage. The client should provide the rest before you proceed to laying out the guide.

 

Creating the brand guide

Below is a breakdown of our standard brand guide template (available for download below). Remember that different clients have different requirements so you may omit some, or you may even include more elements.

Components

Cover

The cover sets the tone of the overall brand guide. The most popular option is to include the company logo on the cover.

About

This is where your client's business information and brand story live.

Logo and its usage

This section sets out the rules on how the brand logo should be used. For example, if the logo comes in wordmark and icon forms, establish rules of where and when each form is used. List the size requirements and color specifications. 

Typography

Establish a clear set of rules on the fonts used: do you want to keep it regular 12 pt, italics only or absolutely not in bold?

Color

Providing the primary and secondary colors is good, but to ensure brand color consistency, you need to also provide the HEX, RGB and CMYK values. 

Your designer profile

This is the perfect spot for your short profile which can include your contact details, experience and your portfolio. Ensure all your links work properly.

Glossary

Include all the specific design terms used in the brand guide.

End

This is a great place to reiterate the look and feel of the brand for a strong finish. You can use a straightforward approach with the company address and logo on the side, or an artistic approach with a great quote against the primary brand color. Your client should definitely have input here.
 
 

Download the brand guide template

Finishing your brand guide

Things to remember

  • DO use the above template to provide your client with a basic brand guide they'll covet!
  • DO ensure all links in your brand guide work properly - nothing is more disappointing than seeing a sentence like "Click here to see my portfolio" that doesn't link anywhere!
  • DO submit the full brand guide as one file. Submitting each page of the guide as separate files may confuse your clients.
  • DON'T hesitate to modify the brand guide to the clients' needs and add creative touches if it fits the brand.
  • DON'T let flourishes get in the way of information - sometimes being simple is best!
  • DON'T upload brand guide pages into separate files - keep in mind that your clients need to easily flick through the guide.

 

Submitting to your client

Make sure you submit the correct files to your client. Each should have all pages of the brand guide in a single file.
  • A high-res, editable source file of the final design (PSD, AI or INDD)
  • A print-ready PDF file with all the fonts outlined