Branding Guidelines: Why You Should Have Them & Features of the Very Best

Establish Your Brand Identity & Reputation

  • Brand guidelines ensure consistent branding for business success and customer loyalty.
  • Key branding elements evoke emotions and drive brand loyalty.
  • Consistent branding increases recognition and satisfaction, while inconsistency harms reputation and revenue.
  • Examples like Slack, Target, Spotify, Lululemon, and Harley-Davidson show the power of consistent branding.

Brand guidelines are a set of standards that businesses follow to maintain a consistent image when presenting themselves to the public. These guidelines usually describe the company’s preferred colors, fonts, design, messaging, mission, voice, and much more. Consistent branding is important as it gives customers a uniform experience when interacting with the business. When talking about brand guidelines, you may also encounter the terms “visual brand elements”, “brand style guide”, “branding stylebook”, or “visual brand guidelines”.

Why are Brand Guidelines Important? A Brief Refresher:

Strong branding guidelines are part of an overall branding strategy framework and essential for any organization looking to create a consistent and recognizable brand identity. These guidelines establish the core elements of a brand and helps designers, marketers, and other stakeholders to ensure that all branding materials align with the brand’s identity.

Key Features of Strong Branding Guidelines & Style Guides

Strong corporate branding guidelines are a vital element for any successful brand’s longevity and growth. When properly established, they offer a clear outline of how the brand is presented to the public, ensuring all brand collateral is consistent, regardless of the platform. In this article, we will explore the most critical features of strong brand guidelines and how they impact the overall perception of the brand.

What are the Top 12 Elements Included in Branding Guidelines?

Did you know that businesses with strong, consistent branding, on average, enjoy revenue increases of 10-20%, even up to 33%? With that in mind, a comprehensive branding stylebook can be an essential tool for any organization. Essential elements included in a branding or style guide can include:

Double helix illustration of the top 12 elements of branding guidelines.

  • Vision, mission, positioning, and value statements
  • Unique value proposition
  • Company credo
  • Key messaging points
  • Brand story
  • Logo versions
  • Color palettes
  • Typography
  • Supporting visual elements
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • UI/UX & accessibility

Additionally, guidelines should introduce design principles, intellectual property, core values, and buyer personas, fostering brand strength and customer satisfaction. Establishing and adhering to branding guidelines is crucial for any business desiring an enduring, recognizable, and successful brand.

How Do Elements Like Color, Typography, and Voice Impact Branding?

Visual elements like color, font choices, and voice are some of the most important aspects of branding. These elements can evoke emotions and associations in consumers, conveying a brand’s personality and values. A consistent visual identity is crucial for brand recognition, as it helps a brand stand out in a crowded market.

Here’s a breakdown of how elements like color, typography, and voice impact branding:


  • Color is an essential part of a brand’s visual identity and can evoke different emotions and associations in customers.
  • Specific colors can communicate values and personality traits that align with a brand’s identity and message.
  • Colors should be complementary and consistent across all marketing channels to ensure a unified brand image.


  • Typography plays a crucial role in a brand’s visual identity as it affects overall readability and legibility.
  • The typeface selected can evoke a particular mood, so brands should use typography that aligns with their messaging and personality.
  • Guidelines should specify aspects such as font sizes, weights, and line spacing to ensure consistency in messaging.


  • A brand’s voice is how it communicates with its employees, customers, and stakeholders, and it plays an essential role in maintaining brand identity.
  • The language used should be consistent with the brand’s personality, values, and message.
  • Voice guidelines specify the tone of voice, writing style, and use of specific words/phrases that are aligned with the brand’s identity.

Overall, the three elements discussed above significantly impact branding as they are essential to developing a consistent and cohesive brand image. Companies that take the time to develop and enforce branding standards will ultimately create a more memorable and lasting impression on their customers.

When selecting these elements, it is important to consider how they align with the brand identity and target audience. For example, a tech startup may opt for a modern, edgy design style and use quirky product shots, while a luxury fashion brand may favor more classic design elements and elegant imagery. Ultimately, the goal is to create a comprehensive style guide that outlines all essential elements of the brand’s visual and voice identity, ensuring consistent branding across all marketing materials and touchpoints.

Benefits of Establishing Branding Guidelines

Setting up these guidelines can have a significant impact on the success of a business. A clear and consistent brand identity will allow customers to recognize and remember a company more easily, leading to stronger customer loyalty and greater brand recognition.

But the benefits of establishing branding guidelines and style guides go beyond just improving recognition: it can lead to better communication, more effective marketing, and a stronger company culture within your organization.

How Do Guidelines Enhance Consistency in Messaging?

By crafting and adhering to brand guidelines, brands can ensure that their messaging is consistent across all touchpoints, reinforcing their brand identity and building trust with their audience. This consistency in messaging also helps to establish a brand’s credibility, as well as making it easier for consumers to recognize and remember the brand.

How Can Consistent Branding Increase Brand Recognition and Recall?

Just like who we date, who we associate with, and the kinds of people we’d like to be around, people also personify brands––and they are more likely to trust those with a consistent personality. To achieve this consistency, recognizable brands strictly enforce brand guidelines with clear rules on their visual and tone elements.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that consistent branding can lead to increased trust among consumers, and can even help to mitigate risk during times of crisis.

Consistent branding is critical to making a brand stick in consumers’ minds. From the primary colors, to the fonts used in company emails, everything must follow the defined guidelines.

What Effect Can Branding Guidelines Have on Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty?

Brand consistency plays a crucial role in driving customer trust and loyalty towards a company and its products or services.

A study by Motista found that emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value than customers who are not emotionally attached to a brand. They will also recommend a brand at a rate of 71%, compared to the average rate of 45%.

Therefore, creating and enforcing branding guidelines is essential to establish a long-term emotional bond with customers, resulting in better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Cost of Inconsistent Branding

Inconsistent branding can cost a business greatly in terms of sales, customer loyalty, and even its reputation. A lack of clear design elements, tone of voice, and visual identity can confuse consumers and create a disconnect between a company’s messaging and brand image.

This, in turn, can lead to a decline in customer engagement and revenue.

What Happens When Businesses Fail to Create or Follow Branding Guidelines?

Not following proper branding guidelines in a business can lead to serious consequences, including a lack of cohesion in the brand’s messaging and appearance. Without clear guidelines, inconsistencies may arise, causing confusion among consumers.

One common mistake is the misuse of fonts, colors, or logos, resulting in a disjointed brand identity. Another issue is the creation of inconsistent marketing materials, leading to a lack of recognition among customers.

Ultimately, without a strong brand identity, businesses may struggle to stand out in a crowded market, losing customers in the process. These consequences underline the importance of following branding guidelines to ensure a consistent and recognizable brand identity.

What are the Potential Costs of Inconsistent Branding?

One famous example of the potential costs of inconsistent branding is the controversy surrounding the London 2012 Olympic logo. The logo, which featured a jagged and abstract design, was met with mixed reactions from the public, with many criticizing its lack of clarity and visual appeal. Additionally, the fonts and colors used in the branding were inconsistent across different marketing materials, which further contributed to confusion and inconsistency.

The London Olympic Committee spent an estimated £400,000 for the logo design and faced additional costs for rebranding materials. While it is difficult to quantify the exact costs of the controversy and rebranding efforts, it is clear that inconsistent branding had a negative impact on the London 2012 Olympics’ public image and budget.

5 Famous Examples of Effective Branding Guidelines

Branding guidelines provide a roadmap for companies to communicate a consistent message to their audience. It encompasses design elements, tone of voice, color schemes, and visual identity that all work together to create a recognizable brand. Let’s explore famous examples of effective branding guidelines from companies that have mastered the art of consistent branding.

Slack logo and branding guidelines

#1 Slack
Slack’s brand emphasizes the company’s focus on simplicity, ease of use, and collaboration. Guidelines for typography, color schemes, and user interface are all outlined in detail and are consistent across all products, marketing materials, and communications.

Target logo and branding guidelines

#2 Target Corporation
Target uses its branding principles to achieve its primary focus on quality, affordability, and style with its unmistakable use of the simple, iconic bullseye and attention-grabbing red and white color scheme.

Spotify logo and branding guidelines

#3 Spotify Spotify’s steers its visual and verbal identity efforts toward reflecting personalization, discovery, and immersion in music. Their typography, color schemes, and design promote the brand’s digital feel, using a vibrant green and black theme.

Lululemon logo

#4 Lululemon Athletica
Lululemon’s established brand standards manual draw from the company’s attention to quality, fitness, and community. All of its visual and story elements cater to its specific target audience. Lululemon’s minimalistic design and modern typography have made them stand out in the activewear space while charging a premium for products.

Harley-Davidson logo

#5 Harley-Davidson Motor CompanyHarley-Davidson’s branding policy accentuates the company’s values of freedom, patriotism, and individualism. Featuring a bold black and orange color scheme and an iconic logo featuring a sweeping eagle and the words “Harley-Davidson Motor Company”, it’s a perennial favorite amongst motorcycle enthusiasts and riders.

Crafting a Brand Toolkit to House Your Branding Guidelines & Visual Identity

Working with a creative agency or branding expert to create a brand toolkit that reflects your brand values, mission, and personality is essential for longevity and creating an emotional bond between you and your customers. The investment will pay off in the long run as you build a strong and lasting relationship with your target audience and move one step closer to achieving your business goals.

Mockup of branding guidelines package for Latitude Information Security

If you’re looking for assistance to establish a strong branding guide for your business, our BrandDNA workshops can help. BrandDNA is the ultimate guide to help companies develop a clear and cohesive brand identity, aligning your brand with your business objectives, crafting consistent messaging, and increasing brand awareness and loyalty. We take what we find during our exploratory workshops and design a Brand Toolkit that serves as your ready-out-the-box visual identity system. Contact us today for a customized marketing assessment and to learn more about how BrandDNA & Brand Toolkit can help you achieve your branding goals.