In 2020, companies and designers take all kinds of approaches to delivering brand book best layouts and content. We asked our community about examples that they refer to when thinking of a professional brand guideline. This is how we made a list of examples- by big companies and smaller businesses. Let’s take a look at our top choices, made by professional designers and analyze what makes these choices so good.
Brand book Best examples from brands
We analyzed the best branding guidelines from famous brands. The choice criteria were design quality, writing style, composition, brand book elements and structure.
The top choice was on brands that included all the necessary information and made their identity clear even to non-designers.
Slack is a primary example of a design-driven approach. Their guidelines have all the necessary elements, going in-depth about mission and vision, tone of voice, company colors, logo use cases.
The main reasons why designers (us included) think Slack has one of the best brand books in the business:
- Coherent design: the structure and style of the brand book reflects the business’ personality well;
- It’s easy to read: guidelines aren’t overloaded with unnecessary specifications, which makes it easy to understand even for non-designers;
- A lot of space: the pages of the book are clearly structured, which places emphasis on visuals;
- An engaging writing style: Slack’s branding is proof that guidelines don’t have to be boring.
For us, Slack’s approach to branding and guidelines is one of the most essential references. Their brand book really is the definition of spicy – and we at Gingersauce, emphasize well with this approach.
Although Skype by no means is a modern guideline, it still sets the tone for how an engaging guideline is done. Although it was done many years ago, the style and message of the guideline is highly relevant.
The main reasons why designers put Skype among brand book best examples:
- It describes interface details in a fun way: for a software, it’s important to regiment how its basic features will be displayed. Their way of conveying the acceptable shape of a message box, the messaging interface is exemplary.
- Fun illustrations. Skype is an example of great use of supporting visuals.
- Easy to read. Just like Slack’s brand book, Skype’s guidelines feature a lot of space. Elements vividly stand out on the page.
Skype is an example of a brand book that goes beyond typical logos and fonts. Keep in mind that not every company and product needs such an in-depth approach. For those that do – it’s a great way to relate the nuts and bolts of the design.
Red Cross Guidelines
The choice to put Red Cross’ guidelines together with business-oriented guidelines might seem unlikely, at first. However, the approach that the organization took to describe its identity really stands out.
Our community pointed out that even brand book best examples often tend to be unnecessary long – and we agree. At Gingersauce, we prefer guidelines of 20-30 pages – it allows us to mix detailed and concise approaches. Red Cross, however, took it to another level, packing all the elements on a single page.
Advantages of Red Cross’ one-page guidelines:
- Lightweight: such a file is easy to send via any messenger or email and is fast to download;
- No unnecessary details: the guideline doesn’t bore readers with unnecessary details and specifications;
- There’s space for creativity: some guldeineslack flexibility about the use of their identity. Red Cross leaves space for creativity and interpretation.
That said, it’s important to remember that the Red Cross isn’t a business, in its typical meaning. The rules of regimenting an identity in the non-profit world are slightly different. We noticed that many organizations neglect to create a brand book whatsoever – and we are grateful that Red Cross gives a good example. Their guidelines are rightfully placed among examples everyone can refer to when looking for a sample how to describe the design use cases.
Instagram Brand Book Best Examples
For visually-oriented brands, like Instagram, having a concise identity is everything. If your business deals with design, photography, aesthetics, Instagram is a great reference. Their brand book is published on the web site and organized in separate pages.
This approach is becoming increasingly more popular. However, if you are not a big brand yet, it’s advisable to have a PDF file as well. Paying for hosting and maintenance of a full-fledged website just for branding is unreasonable for most SMBs. Also, as designers, we think that working with portable files is rather common – they can be previewed offline.
The main advantages of Instagram brand books are the following:
- Detailed: the Instagram brand book describes the use of primary, secondary logos, icons;
- Downloadable: you can download all the assets directly from the Insta’s guideline page;
- Shareable: accessing assets via a link doesn’t require file downloads, all the updates are visible right away.
Web-based storage of branding assets allows company to keep their identity always updated and relevant. This is why we at Gingersauce enable both online and offline sharing as one of brand book best practices. If you want your team and partners to be updated on the changes in real-time, you can share branding assets online. If you’d like to have a readable and portable version, you can download a PDF file.
A good brand book is flexible, easy to written, well-written and composed. Both writing and design elements should represent the brand’s tone of voice, mission and vision, and visual style.
You don’t have to hire a professional design team for these purposes, though. Build an impressive guideline with Gingersauce for free. The templates were designed by professional branding designers. All you need to get started is a logo.
Another great example of a web-based brand book is Starbucks. Just like Insta, this famous brand has a widely recognized and emulated identity. It’s crucial for the company to keep assets public and updated to avoid confusion and asset misuse.
However, in our opinion, Starbucks took the design of their web brand book even further. The company hosts a standalone site with pages, dedicated to logos, fonts, assets, illustrations. On top of that, it’s very interactive.
- Users can type anything in Starbucks’ custom font to see how it’s going to look
- Stylish design: the brand book itself follows all the rules of the guideline and serves as a first-hand representation of the identity;
- The brand book elaborates on practice and theory: there are separate pages for theoretical rules and another one for case studies with practical applications.
Starbucks built a complex website that gives a full overview of the entire brand identity. The only downside of this approach is that guidelines ended up too extensive. It’ll take you 10-20 minutes to understand the main rules of brand identity usage and browse the main assets.
Guberman Brand Guidelines
It’s a minimalistic but detailed brand book that focuses on the brand from a precise, almost scientific standpoint. The brand book describes the rules of use of primary, secondary logos, primary, and additional icons. It goes in-depth about fonts, their weight, decorations, which is a very important practical aspect.
What do we like about the brand book?
- It’s easy to read: pages aren’t overloaded with unnecessary details: the name of the chapter of the book is to the left, contents – to the right;
- It reads like a book: the traditional look and feel of a brand book is what many designers fail to factor in. From our experience of talking to enterprises and SMBs, we know that businesses still love to flipbooks and PDFs.
- It provides a lot of context: designers paid attention to textual and mathematical aspects of a brand identity. During promotion and communication, this will make a huge difference.
A final thought
You’d think creating the brand book layouts, like the ones above should’ve taken hours. It likely did – making a brand identity is a big task for a designer, and even for an agency. Determining a structure, positioning assets, describing every element, assembling visuals – there’s a lot of manual work that goes into making a brand book.
Well, not anymore. It turns out, brand book making already was automated – by us. We built Gingersauce – an automated brand book maker that generates palettes, fonts, use cases, and proportions for you. In fact, the last brand book on the list, Guberman, was built by an automated builder – and not in days, but in minutes. This is the power of smart automation. Try out Gingersauce – create the first brand book for free!