How to create the ultimate brand guide

The brand guide is a 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 a business or organization follows when presenting their brand to the world. It details things like the story, voice and audience of a company to ensure consistency across all communication channels.

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

Below is a breakdown of our standard brand guide template. Remember that each client will have different requirements, so you'll likely omit certain elements or add additional ones.

Components

Cover

The cover sets the tone of the overall brand guide. The most popular option is to include the company logo on the cover.

About

This will include your client's business information and brand story.

Logo and usage

This section describes how the brand logo should be used, including size requirements and color specifications. For example, if the logo comes in wordmark and icon forms, establish clear rules of where and when each form should be used. 

Typography

Decide how fonts will be used. Do you want to keep all copy in regular 12 pt? Italics only? Or absolutely not in bold?

Color

Provide primary and secondary colors in HEX, RGB and CMYK values to ensure brand color consistency.

Your designer profile

This is the perfect spot for your short profile, which includes your contact details, experience and portfolio. Make sure your links work properly!

Glossary

Include all the specific design terms used in the brand guide.

End

Finish strong by reiterating the look and feel of the brand. Use a straightforward approach with the company address and logo on the side, or an artistic approach with a great quote against the primary brand color. Your client should definitely have input here.
 
 

Download the brand guide template

Finishing your brand guide

Things to remember

  • Make sure all links in your brand guide work. Seeing "Click here to see my portfolio" without a link is never good.
  • Submit the full brand guide as a single file. Separate files will confuse your clients.
  • Modify the brand guide to meet your clients' needs. Feel free to add creative touches if it fits the brand.
  • Keep your design simple. Complicated design get in the way of presenting information.

Submitting to your client

Make sure you submit the correct files to your client. Each should have all pages of the brand guide in a single file.
  • A high-res, editable source file of the final design (PSD, AI or INDD)
  • A print-ready PDF file with all the fonts outlined