Every great brand has a brand book or style guide. It’s one of the many reasons they’re impressionistic and rememberable. Good branding sticks because it reinforces consistency through repetitive use of the same logo, fonts, colors, imagery, values, and messaging.
Every brand needs some form of visual and verbal standardization to guide its voice and marketing efforts. Brands that blend are often discredited, mistrusted, and ultimately overlooked. Your business can’t afford to be overlooked. Style guides or brand books don’t take much time to develop at all.
Throughout this article, we’ll showcase 33 great examples of brand style guides, also called guidelines, brand books, or brand manuals. Here’s what you can expect:
- What is a Style Guide or Brand Book?
- Why are Brand Guidelines Important?
- What Makes a Good Brand Book?
- 33 Examples of Effective Brand Style Guides
- Creating a Brand Book for your Business
What is a Style Guide or Brand Book?
A style guide, also known as brand book or brand guide, is essentially a set of rules and standards that explain how your brand works. These brand guides influence marketing campaigns, messaging, communication, and advertising. They are strategic guides covering all aspects of your brand.
These guides explain a brand’s identity and presents standards for the brand to both internal and external parties. Some brand books are focused exclusively on the design aspect, while others include mission statements and messaging guidelines as well.
If you’re considering a style guide or brand book for your business, it’s important to assess your needs for such a manual and determine which brand guidelines should be included.
Why are Brand Guidelines Important?
Though the content of a brand book or style guide varies, they are important to maintain brand consistency, establish credibility, improve brand recognition, and increase profit. You may be asking yourself, ‘what does a brand book have to do with generating profit?’ Here, I’ll explain.
Maintains Consistent Visual Identity
Let’s say you’ve hired an outside designer to design something for your business. How will that designer know they’ve created an end product that matches the look and feel of your brand? This is the realm of brand books and style guides. These brand guides help your business maintain consistent visual identity and brand cohesion, no matter the scenario.
Improve Brand Recognition
Brand recognition, or brand awareness, refers to the extent to which a consumer can correctly recall or identify a particular brand based on a single product, logo, tag line, packaging or advertising campaign.
Tell me which company you think of when I say Pumpkin Spice Latte, that’s good brand recognition, and a brand guide will help your business do that.
A good brand book maintains brand consistency and ultimately establishes credibility in the minds of consumers and potential customers, which then leads to customer conversion, retention, and loyalty.
Businesses suffer when their brand is inconsistent in its marketing, advertising, and messaging. It leaves potential customers feeling confusing and doubtful, which finally results in distrust towards your brand and a lack of credibility.
Consumers purchase from brands they trust. In return, brands that add value are rewarded with customer retention and increased profits.
Our clients often say they chose Stoodeo because they really liked our logo and website. Further proof that maintaining consistent visual identity leads to improved brand recognition, which leads to greater trust and credibility in the minds of consumers, resulting in increased profits.
Now, let’s discuss what makes and goes into making a good brand book or style guide.
What Makes a Good Brand Book?
Effective brand books or style guides usually cover some or all of the following topics:
- Logo usage
- Tagline or slogan
- Color palette
- Fonts and typography
- Photography and imagery
- Messaging and tone
- Mission statement
- Brand values
- Elevator pitch
- Target audience
- Email signature
- Social media
Let’s take a quick look and discuss a few of these topics before looking at the visual examples.
Usage of your logo should be maintained across all platforms. This includes defining acceptable usage, placement, and alterations. Its important to define and establish usage rules for your logo as its the most visual object people have of identifying your brand.
A tagline or slogan is more than a catch phrase. This single line of text should tell the world what you do and why it matters to them. Once you’ve found your tagline, you’ll need to define acceptable usage and placement requirements. This could be things like spacing, proximity to your logo, font used, font style (italic, bold, or normal), capitalization, etc.
A well defined color palette provides a brand with a consistent look and feel. Choose primary, secondary, and complementing colors for your brand. Brand books and style guides should then clearly define these colors by name and by print or screen values RGB, CMYK, HEX.
Fonts & Typography
Your brand guide should also include usage definitions and examples for acceptable typefaces and styling, for both print and web. Make the rules for how to use these fonts clear and give guidelines for any additional styling, size, pairing, spacing, and color. Try to only include a few typefaces, usually a primary, secondary, and a complementary font is all you need.
33 Examples of Effective Brand Style Guides
Now that we’ve discussed the nature of brand books and style guides, lets look at 33 great examples of brand style guides, also called brand guidelines, brand books, or brand manuals:
Apple has developed and published brand and marketing guidelines for its app store developers to use when advertising their app store apps and for the usage of Apple’s logo alongside their products.
Starbucks is a great example of a business that developed brand strategy and guidelines for key areas of their business, including logo usage for third parties serving their coffee, and right down to their employee’s choice of clothing for the workplace.
A few years back Skype created a whimsical and slightly comical brand guide. In it, they decided to cover their mission, target audience, users, logo usage, typefaces, and colors – check it out.
Sometimes brand guidelines need to extend beyond logo usage into a style guide for a digital product. In Trello’s case, they’ve created an extensive online design system for their brand’s product and have even given it a name, Nachos.
Foursquare is another good example of a business brand book that includes correct and incorrect logo usage examples, icon usage, color palette, copywriting, tone and voice, typography, and trademarks.
6 Boy Scouts of America
BSA has done an amazing job detailing aspects of their brand in their identity guide. Across thirty pages BSA defines acceptable usage and examples for their purpose, theme, mission, trademark, programs, signage, typography, patches, uniforms, logo, colors, marketing material, and more.
7 American Red Cross
The Red Cross has created an effective single page guide that communicates the brand’s identity at a glance. In this single page, they’ve defined acceptable usage for their logo, color palette, typography, and tone of voice.
MailChimp has a good example of simple brand asset guidelines for using their logo. Every company should have this as a minimum set of guidelines for their brand. They also have a well documented internal content style guide for their employees.
When Uber rebranded in 2018 they created an impressive section on their website to showcase the brand changes. These changes include an updated design system, logo, typography, iconography, color palette, motion, imagery, and tone of voice.
Facebook creates an entire resource center dedicated to outlining rules for using Facebook brand assets and showcasing it’s content.
Twitter offers brand guidelines for its logo, trademark, social icons, and other aspects of their brand via a download in their brand resource page on their website.
YouTube offers a simple solution for the building blocks of its brand. On their brand resources page, they include guidelines for logo usage, icons, and colors.
This simply shows how to use the Pinterest brand in marketing materials. While not comprehensive, it’s another simple guide that provides general rules about using Pinterest’s brand assets or showcasing Pinterest content.
Evernote has created an effective design system for its brand. Part of that system includes brand identity guidelines, including logo usage, color palette, and typography.
15 UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley is an excellent example of a comprehensive brand book and style guide. In it, they clarify their brand and its position, ensure key themes are present in all communications and encourage internal and external advocates to properly represent their brand.
16 British Airways
British Airways offers a glimpse at what an exhaustive brand guide book should look like. Though this is an older 2007 version, I’m sure you’ll agree about the value this adds and brings to their brand positioning.
17 Oregon State University
OSU is another great collegiate example of a dedicated comprehensive brand guide, including brand positioning, tone of voice, visual identity, brand usage, messaging, audience, editorial style, color palette, typography, and more.
GOV.UK is a leading governmental agency in the UK and has always been at the forefront of great user-centered design principals and philosophy. They have some of the best-documented guidelines and handbooks around. I’ve included three effective examples of their principals and guidelines.
Google shapes its brand in many ways; one of which is through maintaining visual coherence of its products and visual assets. Here’s one example of how they do this in their visual assets guidelines.
The Dropbox logo is a visual imprint that’s widely recognized. Because they want it to be instantly recognizable, consistency is important. So they’ve provided brand guidelines for its usage.
21 Columbia University
In 2011 Columbia University produced and published blue290, a practical guide to Columbia’s standards of visual identity. In it, they cover the proper use of their logo, trademark, typography, letterhead, and web identity.
This is probably the most interesting example in our list, its NASA’s 1976 graphics standards manual. This now retro manual includes 60 pages of insights into their standards for logo, reproduction art, stationery, typography, forms, publications, signage, vehicles, and more.
In 2016 Acano’s brand team developed a new brand book to better reflect the essence of who they are and where they felt they were going as a company. In this book, you’ll find brand guidelines that include logo usage, spacing, wordmark, tagline, color palette, typography, imagery, iconography, illustration, and more.
24 University of Saskatchewan
Next up for great collegiate examples is the University of Saskatchewan. They’ve assembled a 40-page expression guide for those responsible in creating marketing and communication material within their organization. In it, they cover brand and verbal identity, brand position, audiences, messaging, tone of voice, tagline, and more.
25 Co-op Design System
Co-op has created an effective design system made up of principles, guidelines, and tools that help design and build user-centered services. Their design system includes design principals, user research principals, content principals, pattern library, brand assets, content style guide, and more.
HubSpot felt the need to create a house style to give an introduction to written style guides for internet marketers. This highly useful guide will help you create and implement your next style guide.
Formstack is a really great example of guidelines and blueprints that help create beautiful and thoughtful experiences across their brand and products. Be sure to check out their design system, brand guidelines, and content guidelines.
Atlassian has created an end-t0-end design framework that results in straightforward and beautiful experiences across their brand, products, tone of voice, and marketing.
29 The Ritz-Carlton
In this example, the Ritz-Carlton outlines the meaning and implications that encompass the philosophy behind their Gold Standard. They cover credo, motto, service commitment, service values, position, and employee promise.
Medium offers its branding guidelines which minimally include wordmark, monogram, spacing, positioning, color usage, and do’s and don’ts. It’s a simple and effective straightforward document reflecting proper usage of their logo for third-parties.
31 University of Denver
The University of Denver’s division of marketing and communication has a dedicated section within its website defining guidelines for its brand, including logo, voice and tone, style guide, iconography, and more.
32 Charity Water
In 2016 well known non-profit Charity Water assembled this 80+ page brand book and its quite amazing. In it they cover their brand, logo, color palette, typography, imagery, tone of voice, social media, video, editorial, and more.
Our last example comes from Radiate. In 2017 Radiate created a style guide for its brand messaging and brand identity. This document covers its mission, story, voice, tone, tagline, logo, spacing, color palette, typography, and more.
Creating a Brand Book for your Business
Creating a simple brand book or set of guidelines takes some initial time and planning, but the rewards it brings to a brand are well worth the investment.
At Stoodeo, we can help your brand develop an award-winning visual identity, and work with you to hone in your messaging and tone. Contact us today and let’s discuss creating something special for your brand, or give us a call at (903) 871-5170.