brand guidelines

What is a brand guideline and why do I need one?

leonie waldron
Leonie Waldron
Head Strategist


  • A brand guideline (or style guide) outlines the rules and guidelines for how your brand is presented, visually and verbally.
  • It contains information on how to use your brand’s logo, colours, typography, imagery, and tone of voice. 
  • Having a style guide in place ensures consistency (especially when many different people are working on your marketing). 
  • Your brand guidelines can be super helpful for your content marketing team, helping them to get a sense of how your business should be portrayed. 

Why brand guidelines are so handy to have

A brand guideline is a document that outlines the rules and guidelines for how your brand should be presented visually and verbally. It’s a handy reference tool for anyone creating content, graphics, videos, or any other marketing materials for your brand, both in-house or externally.

Also known as a style guide, this document can be very simple or highly detailed, but its ultimate aim is to ensure consistency and coherence in your branding.

The purpose of a brand guideline

  • Helps establish and maintain the visual and verbal identity of your brand, including guidelines on how to use your brand’s logo, colours, typography, imagery, and tone of voice.
  • Ensures that your brand is presented consistently across all channels, from your website and social media to print materials and advertising campaigns.
  • Helps maintain a consistent brand identity which helps to increase brand recognition, familiarity and recall. Remember – people buy from people (or businesses) that they know, like and trust.
  • Saves you time and money – with a clear set of guidelines, you can avoid spending time and resources on creating new assets or materials that don’t fit within your brand identity, or going back and forth with your external creative team because the work you received isn’t quite right.
  • Simplifies and speeds up the creative process – by providing clear guidelines, your creative team can use this as a ‘cheat sheet’ to create content that aligns with your brand, rather than trying to guess what the brand identity should look or sound like.
freelance copywriter in colourful jumper

What happens when you don’t have a brand guideline in place?

  • Without clear guidelines, different people can interpret the brand in different ways, leading to inconsistencies in visual and verbal presentation. This can confuse customers and weaken the overall impact of your marketing.
  • Without a consistent brand identity, it becomes difficult to establish a clear and recognisable brand in the minds of customers. Inconsistent branding can lead to a diluted brand identity that fails to resonate and makes your marketing fall flat.
  • When different individuals or departments create their own marketing materials, it can lead to a duplication of effort and wasted resources. This can include creating assets that don’t fit with the brand identity or creating similar assets twice.
  • Inconsistent branding can lead to customers seeing your business as unprofessional and untrustworthy.

“I’m not ready to spend thousands with a branding expert or take on a project that will drag out for months.”

So, where do you start if you just want a simple brand guideline?

If there’s one project that’s truly worth spending time and money on, it’s getting your brand guidelines sorted by a professional. However, if you’re working with limited resources, you can do some of the background work yourself if you’re not quite ready to engage a branding expert. 

If you want to create a simple brand guideline for your business without spending a lot of time or money, there are a few steps you can take. 

  • Get your team together and try to define your brand personality. If your brand was a person, how would you describe them? What would they like and dislike? What impression would they leave on people? Looking at your brand values, voice and tone can help you establish a clear brand identity and personality that can guide your visual and verbal branding.
  • Establish and document your visual brand identity: This includes defining your brand’s logo, colour palette, typography, and any imagery or graphic elements that represent your brand. Keep in mind that your visual brand identity should be consistent with your brand personality.
  • Make it accessible: Once you’ve created your brand guideline, be sure to make it easily accessible to anyone who may need it, including external creatives like graphic designers, copywriters and web designers

By following these simple steps, you can create a basic brand guideline that can help establish consistency and coherence in your brand identity.

While this approach may not be as comprehensive as working with a branding expert, it can be a great starting point that can help you start clarifying your brand identity.

Tip: A helpful tool for defining your brand is the Brand Personalities quiz from our friend Debbie O’Connor.

Does a copywriter need my brand guidelines?

Your copywriter will benefit from having access to your brand guidelines because they provide important information about your brand’s tone of voice, messaging, and overall identity.

By having a clear understanding of these guidelines, your copywriter can create content that is consistent with your brand’s identity and values and choose the right style of writing to suit your business.

If your brand guidelines specify that your brand’s tone of voice is friendly and approachable, your copywriter will use a down to earth style as opposed to a more stuffy, corporate style of writing.

Brand guidelines can also provide important information about the brand’s target audience and positioning. This information can help a copywriter create content that speaks to the intended audience and helps to differentiate your brand from competitors.

Overall, providing your brand guidelines to a copywriter can help ensure that your brand’s messaging is consistent and on-brand, which can help to establish and maintain a strong and recognisable brand identity.

If you don’t have brand guidelines in place we can help you develop them by creating a simple document to get you started, or putting you in touch with our recommended branding expert who can guide you through the entire process.