6 books lined up in a row

Brand Books, Why are They so Important?

A brand book is an instruction manual detailing a brand’s personality. Typically, it will outline the history, visuals, voice, and mission of the brand’s communication. It’s also referred to as “brand standards,” “style guide,” or “brand guidelines.” But why is it so important?

The basic contents of a brand book will contain guidelines to the communication habits of a company. Before we go any further, we want to make one thing clear: The brand book has requirements for the basis of creativity, but it should act as a basic rulebook, not to limit creativity.

A brand book typically begins with an overview the company’s history and it’s competitors. From there, you’ll gain an understanding of the brand and establish a platform for the brand. Then you can begin to brainstorm, create, or revise the brand’s communication components. These forms of communication include values, visuals, and voice.

overhead image of a desk with a brand book open to a center page. Other objects on the desk include a row of books, a coaster, pencils, an iPhone, and a laptop.

The content in a brand book varies, but most of the time it will contain a mission and values statement and show proper uses of the logo, imagery, typefaces, and copywriting instructions. It may also contain a brief on competitors as well as tips for page layouts, the company’s tone of voice, wireframes for web design, and so more. Basically, the content pertains to the individual company and depends on the direction of the brand.

Quite often, the importance of a brand book is overlooked. It’s ok if the higher-ups or the boss man doesn’t get it. Yes, it’s frustrating and might feel detrimental to your health, but build one anyway. If they understood the true importance of a brand book, they would create it themselves (but they don’t, which is why they need creatives like us!).

Specifically, the purpose of a brand book is to maintain consistency across branded materials, establish credibility, increase efficiency, and generate a profit.

Maintain Consistency

A brand book should be shared throughout the company and with partners in order to maintain consistent delivery of the brand. By referencing the book, creatives can eliminate questions from other departments, such as which logo to use on a light or dark background. Providing the guidelines to departments outside of the creative wing gives non-creatives something to reference and influences consistency throughout the company.

Black and white image of branded materials for a company, including letterhead, logo, and business card designs. Photo credit to G TranTien.
Photo credit to G TranTien.

Establish Credibility

Once a brand book is in place and brand consistency is maintained, you’ll begin to establish credibility with your customers or users. And credibility leads to loyalty.

Let’s take school for example: Children have a consistent schedule because it helps them feel safe and guided. Consumers are like children searching for guidance. Brands that are inconsistent suffer due to consumers feeling confused or fearful about their quality, which results in a lack of credibility.

Increase Efficiency

A brand book will primarily be a point of reference for those in the creative departments. Creating or revamping a brand book will require time, research, and work. At first this can appear inconvenient and costly, but upon completion it will improve work performance and increase the output of projects.

Creatives will be able to spend less time debating what direction to go in because the primary decisions have been made. For example, a graphic designer won’t have to test different typefaces and the social media manager won’t have to figure out which writing style to use because these have already been chosen. Overall, the efficiency of the brand’s communication and the work performance of the teams involved in that communication will increase.

Generate a Profit

As a result of the three tactics above, you’ll begin to see your brand’s personality reflect and resonate with the customer. Brand management is an ideal to strive for because when the components are thoroughly implemented the results are palpable.

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