How to Create a Brandbook: Methods, Tips, and Examples

  1. Before you begin
  2. 8 key components of a brand book
  3. 3 ways for creating a brand book
  4. 3 ways for printing a brand book
  5. Final thoughts

Your brand is much more than just the product or service you’re selling. When choosing a company to commit to, customers consider its identity, tone of voice, values, and other qualities. To outline your company’s personality, you need a brandbook. It’s a full-scale instruction on using your brand identity, including a logo, colors, fonts, images, as well as sounds, scents, and materials.

Establishing a coherent company image means forging a trustful relationship with your audience, amplifying your recognition, and boosting your sales performance. Read on to find out how to craft a smart brand book.  

Before you begin

To describe someone’s personality, you need to get to know the person first. To come up with a smart brandbook, you need to define the identity of your business. What is it that you do? How do you do it and why? Before developing a brand book, you need to sit down and think about your brand. Only then can you start designing the visual elements that will express your message and ideas. 

Mission and values. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, a renowned motivational speaker and author. Take Apple for example. Through its products, the iconic tech giant challenges traditional norms and encourages outside-the-box thinking. This innovative philosophy is the reason why people all over the world queue up in lines to buy Apple gadgets.    

To outline your mission, answer these questions:

  • Why am I doing this?  
  • Why did I choose this line of work?
  • What do I want to change in the world?
  • What are my values?

Steer clear of abstract philosophical concepts. Instead, try to precisely define the values that drive you and inspire you to move forward. These values will become the points of contact with your target audience.    

Target audience. Who are your clients? How does your product or service solve their problems? To get answers to these questions, analyze the behavior of your existing clientele, do a profound marketing research, run surveys on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), etc. This will give you the idea of what your audience are expecting from you.. 

Unique personality. Think about your brand as if it were a person. Would this person be a man or woman? Would he/she be outgoing or reserved? Here is a good exercise. Take a sheet of paper. In one column, write down the qualities that characterize your company. In the other column, list the opposite traits. This will help you define your brand identity and fine-tune your tone of voice. 

8 key components of a brand book

1. Cover

Your brand book cover is a statement in itself. It must showcase the essential elements of your brand identity, such as a logo, colors, and fonts. When it comes to cover, there is no need to be too conventional. Tap into your creative expression. For example, the cover of the Starbucks brand book contains a logo, mission, and a green circle that comes alive when you’re pointing a cursor at it.  

2. Contents

Regardless of the number of pages, your brand book must be easy to navigate through. Create a logical table of contents typed in a solid font. This will help your audience find the right information in the nick of time. Take a look at what Uber has done: while you’re leafing through the brandbook, the contents remain fixed on the screen.

3. Slogan and history

Introduce your brand to your audience. Tell them about your mission, goals, dreams, and values. Share the story behind your brand. It can be a lengthy story, a couple of emotional statements, or just a short slogan. For example, Urban Outfitters chose to reinforce its story with corporate imagery for a deeper effect. 

4. Logo instructions

You need to create multiple variations of your logo that will fit different carriers and surfaces. While a business card needs one logo, a 5-meter facade banner calls for a slightly different logo version due to its size. The instructions on using your logo must include the following information and designs:

  • logo colors;
  • black-and-white logo;
  • logo sizes;
  • how much blank space must left around the logo;
  • where each logo version must be used (on socials, business cards, landing pages, etc.);
  • unacceptable logo uses.

We like how meticulously the I Love New York brand describes the uses of its beautiful emblem. 

5. Color instructions

List the main, additional, and accentuate colors that characterize your company essence. Also, list the shades that are a no-go for your brand.

  • Showcase the color samples you’ve chosen for your brand and add their codes according to the Pantone color system;
  • Provide CMYK, RGB, and HEX values for your corporate colors. (CMYK is for print, while RGB and HEX are for onscreen.)
  • Define how different colors must be used.

Oxford University dedicated several sections to listing the main and additional colors, as well as describing color palettes for blog, social media, and other backgrounds. Plus, the brand included the hues that should be avoided.

6. Font instructions

Brands tend to use 1-2 main fonts, 1 additional font, and substitute fonts. Regardless of the number of typography solutions you’re using, be sure to outline the following recommendations: 

  • where each font must be used (headlines, logos, text, etc.);
  • minimum and maximum type sizes;
  • letter spacing and line spacing;
  • other parameters, such as alignment to the right/to the left/to center. 

Take a look at the original approach the Bookmate brand took to describing its typography solutions.

7. Graphics instructions

Showcase the imagery that reflect who you are. If you don’t have your own photos yet, search major stock photography sites for the appropriate graphics. Focus on these recommendations:

  • imagery for different uses (socials, portfolio, website, etc.);
  • photo editing tools and filters;
  • imagery to be avoided;
  • illustrations, interactive elements, video clips, etc.;
  • ways to match images with text and logo (e.g., Unicef gives photos with text on them).

8. Positioning

Your brand voice defines the way you’re going to communicate with your audience. Remember the qualities use used to describe your brand (see above) and rely on them to build your positioning. For example, Firefox listed six words that characterize it in the most precise way.

Here are two more tips:

  • Think about the words you can and can’t use (e.g,. Are you going to greet your subscribers with “Hey”, “Hello” or in any other way?).
  • Your company’s tone of voice must be coherent across different communication channels, whether it’s email, customer support, etc.

3 ways for creating a brand book

Depending on your budget, experience and skills, you can design your brand book in many different ways. Let’s zoom in on the three main methods for creating “the Bible of your brand”.

1. ZenBusiness

With the ZenBusiness logo generator, you can create a neat brand book with zero knowledge of graphic design. Create a logo, choose corporate colors and fonts, and download a turnkey brand book in PDF. Currently, ZenBusiness only offers a demo brand book which is available on Plan M.   

2. Designer

Before making an advance payment, be sure to take a peek at the designer’s portfolio. It’s crucial that their approach matches your own vision of your brand. If you like what you see, go ahead and discuss the details with your contractor. Provide the designer with detailed specifications and guidance throughout the process.

Browse through freelance websites to find the professional that fits your budget and needs. Today, most freelance platforms ensure secure and transparent deals between customers and contractors. Check out these trusted services:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr  
  • People Per Hour

    3. Graphic editors

If you have some experience working in graphic editing programs, you can easily design a brand book in Adobe Indesign, Adobe Photoshop or Visme.

  • Before getting down to work, make sure you have the key elements of your visual identity ready (logo, color palettes, fonts, imagery, etc.) 
  • Open your selected editor, create a new document, design the layout, and fill it with content. 
  • To streamline the design process, you can pick a ready-to-use template for our brand book. After that, you’ll only need to add your information. Free and premium brand book templates can be found on Stockindesign, Designfreebies and Venngage.

How to create a brand book in Indesign:

How to create a brand book in Photoshop:

3 ways for printing a brand book

Are you going to upload your brand book to your website and socials or print it out? Usually, companies save their brand identity instructions in PDF which is equally good for print and web. Read on to find out how to print out your brand book. 

1. Online services

Web-to-print technology is a fast and easy way to print out books, brochures, and other documents. Upload your brand book to your selected online platform (such as Vistaprint, Printful, etc.), select the delivery method, and make a payment. The main downside of this method is the delivery cost.

2. Print shop

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly solution, consider your local printing company. Before placing an order, make sure your file meets the print shop requirements in terms of resolution, format, etc.

3. Print at home

Avoid using low-quality printing paper unless you want your brochure to look unprofessional. A messy brand book can impact your credibility and authority, nullifying all your previous efforts. Also, make sure your printer supports your selected type of paper.  

Final thoughts

A brand book demonstrates your brand personality and provides common guidelines for different teams working within your company (advertising specialists, designers, copywriters, etc.). To make the most out of your brand book, follow these tips:

  1. Think about your brand book as a living organism which is constantly evolving. See what elements and techniques work best and make adjustments to your guidelines as you go. 
  2. Use Pinterest or Trello to collect ideas, inspirational designs, and other contents to help you improve your brochure. 
  3. Remember that your brand book must stay simple and easy-to-read for your employees, commissioned designers, business partners, and other categories of users. To make your guidelines practical and useful, try to illustrate your recommendations with as many examples as possible.
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