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How to Craft a Visual Standards Guide for Your Brand (Part 1)

By Zachary Houle on Mar 7, 2017 3:56:16 PM

A visual standards guide (also known as a brand bible or style guide) is a way to create explicit guidelines on how every aspect of your business or organization’s brand will be handled. It establishes rules to make sure that your brand has a unified and identifiable presence, right down to logo design and use, letterheads, internal memos, advertisements, and websites. This document is to be used by your employees to properly use and communicate your brand and outlines your brand goals and philosophy.

Before you set out to create a visual standards guide, you obviously need to know your brand. That means doing the following things:

  • Write a mission statement about why your company was created and a vision statement about the direction of your brand.
  • Figure out how your products and services solve the problems of your target audience.
  • Create a list of three to five adjectives that talk about your brand. This sets the tone for your graphic design. It also may help to come up with the same number of adjectives to talk about what your brand is not.
  • Determine the guiding principles for all of your organization’s decisions and actions, which will help you and your team stay on brand.

Get Inspired

When you’re ready to create your visual standards guide, having reference points that are on brand may be enormously helpful. You can have your employees create a Pinterest board about what your organization’s core values mean to them. This gets everyone involved and helps create buy-in.

You can think about the following questions to help, too:

  • What worked for your brand previously? If you have successful advertisements, emails, and mailers, collect them.
  • What do other brands do that you enjoy?
  • What questions crop up over and over again? If you’re giving the same feedback to designers, you may want to incorporate that into your guide.

Once you’ve found your inspiration, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start working with a graphic designer to create your standards guide.


Come Up with a Brand Story for Your Visual Standards Guide

Create a summary of your brand that will provide insight into how your company ticks. This will help designers better understand how to represent your brand.

You can include all of the concepts referred to in the introductory section of this blog post, or choose to only share some of that information. Decide what is the most useful reference information to include.

In the next blog post, we’ll look at the specific elements that will go into your visual standards guide.

Contact Cyan

Thinking about crafting a visual standards guide? Reach out to Cyan Solutions. We can walk you through the process and help you design a terrific logo, among other things, as part of our branding package offerings.


Contact Us Today!


Topics: Branding, Visual Standards Guide

Zachary Houle

Zachary Houle

Zachary Houle is a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, where he blogs for a number of clients. As a sometimes writer of fiction, as well, he is the recipient of a $4,000 arts grant from the City of Ottawa for emerging artists and a Pushcart Prize nominee. His fiction and poetry has been published in countless online and print literary journals and magazines in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He enjoys blogging about books on Medium.com, and was recently named one of the Top 50 writers on the topic of books on Medium.