Brand guidelines (or sometimes also referred to as brand standard, style guide or brand book) are in essence a guide on how to execute your brand.
What is included in brand guidelines?
A brand guideline should show best practices and uses of all elements across multiple applications. This can include logo use and misuse, font specifications and usage, colour palettes with relevant values, imagery style and usage, grid layout guidelines, messaging principles and tone of voice.
Typography guidelines can include both primary and secondary font usage for headings, subheadings, and body copy. It is also good to define what fonts to use for digital and print, and substitute fonts for cross-platform applications.
Brand guidelines sometimes also include a short introduction to the company and its background, and any relevant information from the brand strategy, such as values, vision and mission, personality and brand hierarchy.
Do I need brand guidelines?
All brands need brand guidelines, but not all need to be as extensive. Some guidelines can be up to 100 pages, which would be overkill for a small company.
For start-ups often a smaller identity overview document, summing up logo, type and colour use, will suffice. But for a bigger company or a brand, it could benefit from a more detailed guideline document to ensure consistency and ‘on brand’ executions across all applications.