What Is a Brand Book, & How Can It Help Your Business?

What is a brand book? Explanatory illustration

When you’re running a small- or medium-sized business, you might be too busy with everyday operations to stop and take stock of the overall look and feel of your brand. Codifying that visual identity into a brand book might seem all the more difficult. But it may be well worth your time and effort. Having a set of brand guidelines can not only save you money — it can earn you more engagement, more clients, and better returns on your marketing efforts. So what is a brand book? This blog post is here to help. 

Determining a Visual Approach for Your Campaign

Before we get started, let’s clarify some of the terms we’ll be using. While your brand book or brand guidelines (they’re interchangeable) apply to your company as a whole, you might choose to follow them or branch out when working on particular visual marketing campaigns or even individual assets. 

Here are a few resources on these and other related topics: 

All of these articles can serve as a resource as you plan present and future visual marketing strategies for your company. But for now, let’s get back to the topic of brand books and how they can serve as a guide to better visual marketing content. 

What Is a Brand Book?

Every time you create a new piece of visual content, you’re defining your brand for potential customers. Whether it’s a social media post or an explanatory product video, you’re communicating your brand’s identity, commitment to quality, and overall value. 

This happens whether you have a brand book or not. So wouldn’t you like to make sure that every piece of visual content you produce delivers the same message? One poorly made video can lose you a potential customer. And an off-brand infographic will do little to promote your company if no one can recognize that you were the ones that made it. 

A brand book codifies your organization’s overall visual identity into a single, useful resource. This document — whether it’s a PDF or print booklet — can be used as a guide again and again by employees throughout your organization. 

A typical brand book will comprise the following: 

  • A set of defined fonts
  • A brand color palette
  • Illustration and icon styles
  • Photography styles and direction 

It may include other elements as well. And for all of these cases, it will include instructions on their usage. For instance, some fonts will only be used in headlines, while others will only serve for body copy. 

All of these elements are part of your overall visual identity as a brand. That identity should be carefully crafted to accurately communicate your brand’s purpose, values, ambitions, characteristics, and promise. A brand book is simply a resource that makes every element easy to use throughout all your company’s communications. 

So what is a brand book? It’s who your company is, and who you want to become. Just as every business needs a mission statement, every business also needs a brand book. 

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Spanish literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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