How to create the ultimate brand guide

The brand guide is a new post-contest deliverable in logo & bundle pack contests at 99designs. It is an essential tool for businesses and designers benefit from clear guidelines. 
 
This resource page shows you 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

Here are 6 essential elements of a brand guide. We give recommendations on who is responsible for each section, but it's always best to discuss with your client.

Components

Brand story

Information can vary, but usually your client provides the organization's contact details (website, email, address and/or phone number) and a little snippet of their origin story.
 
They may also provide the following:

Mission

A definition of why their organization exists and what it intends to do in the world.

Brand personality

Who their organization would be as a character, and the traits that define who they are. As a starting point, an organization can choose 3-5 adjectives that best describe it.

Target audience

The key people (prospective customers) their products/services provides benefit. 

Core values

The guiding principles for the organization's decisions and actions.

Logo

More often than not, your client already has a logo to work with, you may even have designed it for them! Most clients will need guidelines on how to use the logo in different settings and variations. 

Color

Display your client's color palette and provide the rules for use. If your client does not have an established color theme, include this work in your initial discussions to set the right expectations.

Typography

Like color, the fonts should stay true to the organization's brand story. Unless the client already has some style ideas, you should recommend some on-brand font choices.

Image

Choose imagery that best represents the organization. We recommend creating a mood board of inspirational images to get started. Check in with the client as they may already have pictures they use.

Voice

The right tone speaks to the organization's target audience while reinforcing their brand personality. Your client should provide you with this information to add into the guide.

Download the brand guide template

Components of a brand guide

Things to remember

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.

Submitting to your client

Ensure that you submit the correct files to your client:
  • A high-res, editable source file of the final design (PSD, AI or INDD)
  • A print-ready PDF file with all the fonts outlined
  • Upload all pages of the brand guide in one file