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The Best Brand Guidelines use Best Practice

Keep on brand with engaging and accessible style guides

Every large company has one, but few people actually bother to read it. When ignored it breeds resentment and pulls into question the very standards your company lives by. We’re not talking about the ‘KEEP KITCHEN CLEAN PLEZ THANK YOU’ sign. We’re talking about brand guidelines. You know, that document that outlines everything from your company’s story to its manifesto and approved use of logo, fonts and colors. Most of them get scrolled through once, maybe twice to clock the basics, then stashed away in a share drive somewhere and forgotten about. 

So how do we move from bad practice to best practice?  It all comes down to making your brand style guide a ‘main character’ within your communications development process. A character that is charismatic, uncomplicated, and always there to offer support and clean up after themselves in the kitchen. It is possible to create brand marketing documents that people won’t mind reading, are easy to understand and quick to locate. 

Style guides are such a fundamental and frankly expensive brand asset, that poor presentation and visibility makes them more of a liability when creators go off piste. While you can learn the detail about the nitty gritty of what content you need in a Brand Guideline in our Brand Guidelines Best Practices Webinar, we’ve curated a list of pointers below that show how to present and share them. They are relevant whether you’re creating a brand from scratch, rebranding or simply want to increase usage of your existing set. 

1. Keep them up to date

Like the best of us, branding ages. Your brand guidelines should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis—at least once a year. As your business and the world around it evolves, so too will your brand. Make sure your style guidelines reflect these changes and let people know so that everyone is on the same page. Keeping them housed in a digital portal or a frequently visited landing page will make this a thousand times quicker to update and easier to deploy.  

2. Make them easy to find

Style guides should be easily accessible to anyone who needs them. This means having an online Brand Portal where employees, partners, and agencies can find them 24/7. IntelligenceBank’s BrandHub does just that, a part of a suite of marketing tools, BrandHub is literally a digital home for all things brand. It has a dedicated section for brand guidelines that elevates and segments sections in a logical flow from the Brand Story down to email signatures. 

At the very least, having a dedicated, ‘rubber stamped’ live home for your valuable brand assets means no more guess work when it comes to the latest version.

3. Make them easier to use

Be clear and concise. You’re mainly talking to creative people who are largely visual learners. And on top of that, they’re probably time poor. Your brand guidelines should be clear, concise and include…

  • graphics, rich media (video and audio), imagery
  • interactivity via downloads and links 
  • bullet points vs long paragraphs
  • visual presentation of important text 
  • plain language instead of jargon or acronyms 
  • visual examples; a ‘best of the best’ gallery
  • instructions for usage across all channels and UI elements
  • clear instructions for brand partners i.e. no assumptions of knowledge

Using a digital brand repository like our BrandHub Portal helps make your guidelines ‘next level’ simple and dare we say it…fun.

Ultimately the easier they can be understood—the more they will be followed.

4. Be flexible

While it’s important to have strict rules governing how your brand should be used, it’s also important to be flexible and allow for some degree of creativity. After all, brands need to evolve over time to stay relevant—which means sometimes breaking the rules in order to stay ahead of the curve. As long as deviations from the norm are done with taste, within reason, and have the blessing of the Creative Director, they can help keep your brand fresh and exciting. 

5. Get buy-in

The more buy-in you have, the more likely it is your brand guidelines will be used. It’s important to get it from all stakeholders—including senior management, marketing, sales, IT, customer service, etc. Where possible take them through the basics of the creative rationale, how they will be embedded into the workflow process and the importance of brand reputation. This will ensure that everyone is on board and knows what their role is in helping to maintain a consistent brand identity both internally and externally.

6. Control and track who sees what

Governance matters. Take control of who has access to your online brand guidelines, access to specific content, or functional permissions, (e.g. download asset versus request to download asset).

Online style guides allow you to personalise the experience for different users, like staff, agencies and partners. Content can be segmented into different sub brand structures making only relevant brands accessible.

Track who is accessing your brand guidelines, which page they visit, what assets are being downloaded and which ones are expiring soon.


7. Streamline brand requests

Automate brand requests with FAQs and online form requests to ‘Ask Marketing’. Save your inbox, empower self service and ensure no important requests get lost.

8. Add some personality!

Your brand guidelines don’t have to be dry and tedious. Every brand has a personality…even if your brand is somewhat conservative and a tiny bit boring. Inject character and bring that personality to life. While it’s got to be reflective of your tone of voice, it’ll make the experience way more engaging for your audience.

The end game

Following brand guidelines is key to maintaining a strong, cohesive, recognizable identity that builds equity in the brand and sales in the market. They must be used at every touchpoint – from large ad campaigns to wayfinding signs and the logo on your invoices. This takes time and any deviations lengthen the process and make the company look fragmented and unprofessional. Used well, they are quite simply the fastest ticket to customer brand loyalty. 

Contact us for a demo and tour of BrandHub. There’s much more to it than a home for brand guidelines. Imagine having the ability to:


Your brand guidelines don’t have to be dry and tedious. Every brand has a personality…even if your brand is somewhat conservative and a tiny bit boring, there will be something to work with. Inject character and bring that personality to life. While it’s got to be reflective of your tone of voice, it’ll make the experience way more engaging for your audience.

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