Rustam K. Lead Designer

Brand books. What are they and why do you need them?

A brand book is a document that describes the company's mission, philosophy, the brand's values and the way to communicate to the consumer. Also a brand book includes guidelines on how to represent your corporate identity.

In this article we will explain what exactly a brand book is, what it's used for, and what it should contain.

Why do you need a brand book?

A brand book contains the answers to the many questions you may have, from strategies (the company's direction) to legal inquiries (Copyrights, registered trademarks, etc.). Having such a “Brand Bible” creates a singular understanding of the core values of the brand. Brand books answer a lot of questions and solve potential conflicts about the ideology of the brand and ways of conveying that ideology to the target audience. In layman's terms a brand book is a reference book for your brand, where all its key components are described. Guidelines, which are part of the brand book, provide information on how to use the visual identity of your brand. It doesn't matter in which company and in what city you make the sign for your office, brochures or ads, if the content made stays true to the guideline, everything will look as it should.

What are the elements of a brand book?

A brand book contains the following elements:

- The company’s mission

- Philosophy

- Values

- Target audience, the customer avatar

- Communication style

- Main identifiers

- The brand’s message

- Channels and methods of conveying the core message

- Legal aspects of brand development (registered trademarks, copyright and other aspects)

The complete list of what is supposed to be in a brand book, depends on the specifics of the business. For example it could have a cut guide - a manual on how to design brand identifiers (billboards, interior decor etc.)

Also a brand book contains a guideline, the standards of your corporate identity. The manual of your corporate identity contains all the requirements necessary to use key elements of your brand identifiers.

The list of the elements will depend on the business. Here's an example of a guideline:

- Black and white image of the logo inverted colors and monochrome options

-The logo composure standard, adaptive and a miniaturized versions

- Incorrect usage of the logo

- Slogan

- Brand colors

- Brand fonts

- Photography style

- Document templates

- Company uniform

- Packaging and label

- Interior and exterior decor

- Merchandising standards

- Company transport design

The list of guideline elements will depend on the field of business. For example a store will need designs for its showcases, signs, price tags etc.

Even though a guideline is a part of a brand book it can also be a separate document. Oftentimes that is the case. Guidelines are issued separately, due to them being meant for a wide range of people. Brand books on the other hand are issued on a need to know basis. Sometimes a separate brand book, shortened brand book, is issued for the employees, which for example does not contain the company's positioning and other strategies, but has the philosophy, mission and values of the company. This shortened version exists to form the right understanding of the company for its employees and to lay down some rules of conduct. It greatly helps in teaching interns.


What’s the difference between a brand book and a guideline

A brand book describes the ideology of the company and its means of conveying that ideology to the customers. Guidelines are rules for using elements of the company's identity. Let's look at this table for a clearer picture:

Work process

To make a brand book you need to:

- Analyze the competitors

- Analyze your target audience

- Create the vision

- The documents structure and its approval from the customer

- Preparation of the ideological segment

- Creation of the guideline

- Layout

- Pre-printing preparations

- Printing

A brand book always requires a unique approach that depends on the business. There are no concrete regulations on what it should look like. But there is a few criteria that identify the quality of a brand book;

- Clear and logical structure of the document

- Clear and concise wording

- Visibility

- Aesthetic design

- Reasonable amount of information. The document should not resemble a thick book with many volumes, since it is difficult to work with such a document.


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