Innovative brand guidelines for digital-savvy brands

7 mindset tips for creating online brand guidelines.

If you are one of those brand creators or brand owners who constantly are challenging the status quo of the branding industry and always looking for fresh mindset tools, then keep scrolling through this article to find out how brand guidelines should look and function in 2021 and beyond…
— digitally and interactively, of course.

Brand is always in motion

Style guides consistency should too.

Most often business rebranding is sparked by the fact that your identity is tired and no longer communicates what you’re about. In 2021 it makes no sense to use static «brandbook_final-superfinal-v99.pdf» and related .zip asset folders for rebranding and expect to reach needed respect from employees and partners towards new guidelines. Instead, you should share a brand book with just one link which is always up-to-date, it gives digital experience and let users discover and interact with the brand identity system e.g.

👨🏻🚀 Alright, brand Jedi, grab a cup of matcha latte, noise-canceling earbuds, put your phone on wireless charging or do anything else modern, futuristic, digitally flex, and dive into this 7 mindset tips journey to find out how to build an online style guide and where is the space for innovation here.

° 01 Let’s face it, who has a passion to read long asset guidelines text?

Try to step into the shoes of those agency designers or marketing managers who will receive a brand book and actually use it daily… In reality, no one has a time to go into all esoteric meaning behind every asset because when we visually see long text block — our brains triggers the thought: «let’s just find that logo section, download the file and run a heck away from this corporate hell called «The Big BOOK of brand with 99 pages».» Getting rid of .pdf gives new possibilities such as:

  • You can use text-to-speech technologies to give viewers an option to listen to the text.
  • Use Instagram Story functionality with swiping cards where you can split your text into smaller pieces and for those who need in-depth information — give the «Go Deeper» option with more text showed only after the feature is clicked.

° 02 Standardized layout

Up until now there really was no layout standard for brand books that all brand creators and managers collectively would accept as such. Everybody just designed them by their own means and most often designers designed sexy avantgarde layouts for the sole purpose of impressing other designers or clients and in the process forgetting brand books’ highest purpose as an approved guideline document — keeping the brand message, image, and tone of voice consistent.

Mindset directions:

  • Simple structure sidebar on the left. All the content grouped in sections and subsections, visualizing table of content;
  • Always the same place for search bar;
  • Simple structure sidebar on the left. All the content grouped in sections and subsections, visualizing table of content;
  • Always the same place for search bar;

° 03 Minimalistic is sexy, but let’s not forget to be pretty too

Because the standardized brand book layout doesn’t have to mean that we cannot have fun anymore. For the sake of practicality and looks, why not choose just one landing page of the brand book where you can craft sexy-Behance-style-story about brand identity with pretty mockups and vibe-visuals. Let’s call it «Philosophy» or «Guideline intro» section.

° 04 Interactive AF

When an asset is displayed user should be able to interact with it and get the desired outcome immediately such as pop-up with all the file formats for download or sharing without looking for that option somewhere else.

  • A simple feature of «Copy to clipboard» will ease the copy of the HEX color code;
  • Typography «demo text»;
  • Animated do’s & don’ts.

° 05 Multi-sensory assets and touchpoints

  • Audio branding is a hot topic in marketing recently but even if your brand doesn’t have a sonic identity, most probably you have some audio assets anyway. Think of the similarity when describing graphic elements — padding (timing between elements), tempo, embed a brand-fit-music playlist on Spotify, etc.
  • Interior design guidelines. Online, offline, physical and digital — it all sums up as a brand experience so why not also centralized physical spaces — style guides for office, client centers, bathrooms. For example, when a new office is launching you already know the feel of the brand for the interior design. Or when some scratch hits a wall — you can find paint color, exact Pantone.
  • Scent. Well, maybe some VR with fragrance option comes handy to display smell identity :) but anyway why not try to write down guidelines on which fragrance buy for WC, for example.

° 06 Social media/content marketing

These days almost everyone has their own ecosystem with their social networks. Write down guidelines and skip the fuss:

  • Instagram post templates, “Instagram aesthetics”, Lightroom presets, filters;
  • Guides on which setting to use on stories;
  • Influencers guidelines;
  • Emojis with «Copy to clipboard» feature;
  • Define and store most-used GIF’s, etc.

° 07 Don’t waste time on building an online brand platform from scratch

  • Quick onboarding — get started without watching tutorial videos;
  • Clear modules — only essential features;
  • Easy CMS and transparent subscription model;
  • Future-oriented, AI-driven.

— These should be keywords when you are searching for specific online brand book service.

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