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7 Best Examples of Brand Guidelines

You can call it brand guidelines, style guide or brand book but they all basically refer to standards that guide us on how to use the brand elements.

Designing, printing or fabricating elements of a new brand identity system are all dependent on a set of intelligent standards and guidelines.

A good, solid standards will save you time, money, and frustration.

The size and nature of an organization affect the depth and breadth of the content and how marketing materials are conceived and produced in the future.

Best Brand Guidelines

  1. Starbucks
  2. Uber
  3. YouTube
  4. Dropbox
  5. Audi
  6. Netflix
  7. Slack

In this article, I describe best practices of brand guidelines development on the example of some of the famous brands.

So that you can get inspired and create your own style guide.

1. Starbucks

Starbucks, for example, calls this document the “brand expression guide” and explains that this is:

A high-level overview of how the Starbucks brand comes to life.

The standards are available online on a cool microsite.

Starbucks Brand Guidelines
Starbucks Brand Guidelines

On the very first pages, you'll find what that "brand expression" actually is, and see some case studies.

By looking at specific examples you'll understand how different brand elements (or expressions) should be used to design for different applications.

The Starbucks brand guidelines covers 6 elements:

  • Logo — How to use the Siren logo and the logotype.
  • Color — Primary green and complementary color palette.
  • Voice — The use of functional and expressive voice.
  • Typography — Fonts for headlines, body text and accents.
  • Illustration — How to use texture, photo collage and other graphics.
  • Photography — Examples of artful, editorial and intentional style.

The website is terrific, a great example of an online manual.

Having a dedicated website like this, that shows uses of typography, grids and colors is very helpful to ensure consistency.

It’s easy to navigate and includes everything you need in a style guide.

2. Uber

Uber, on the other hand, calls its standards document “a system”.

The Uber brand system is composed of 9 core elements.

This available online on a dedicated website.

Uber Brand Guidelines
Uber Brand Guidelines

The system shows a new brand identity as efficient to use, flexible across applications, and able to feature localized content in a globally consistent way.

The Uber guidelines cover 9 elements:

  • Logo
  • Color
  • Composition
  • Iconography
  • Illustration
  • Motion
  • Photography
  • Tone of voice
  • Typography

As you can see, the Uber’s style guide covers much more than Starbucks’ does.

You’ll also find a showcase of best-in-class examples to get inspired.

The system is very comprehensive and covers everything from the brand story, to how to use the logo, typography and colors to create new graphics.

What’s interesting is that the brand system also covers a set of motion principles and base motion states, which really makes sense for the company that “moves people”.

3. YouTube

Youtube calls its guideline “Brand Resources”.

The Youtube brand resources page contains of 4 brand elements.

The YouTube brand guideline is available online on the Youtube’s website.

YouTube Brand Guidelines
YouTube Brand Guidelines

The YT standards is pretty tight and concise, but it covers the basics.

The YouTube guidelines cover 4 elements:

  • Logo
  • Icon
  • Colors
  • Do’s & Dont’s

You’ll find here also how to use the logo, minimum sizes, placement, color versions, the do’s and don’ts and a few examples.

This is probably the most basic version of a brand guideline you can get.

The page is there just to get you started and any usage needs special approval of YouTube. (submit request)

So if you’re looking to cover the absolute minimum for your brand, this is a great example of a solid style guide.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox calls its guideline “Brand Materials”.

The Dropbox brand materials page contains of 7 brand elements.

The Dropbox brand guideline is available online on Dropbox’s website.

Dropbox Brand Guideline
Dropbox Brand Guideline

This style guide is a simple page but it guides you clearly on how to use the logotype, brandmark and other brand assets.

It also contains other product logos, do’s and don’ts, application icons and product screenshots.

The Dropbox brand guidelines cover 7 elements:

  • Logo
  • Color
  • Typography
  • Writing
  • Visuals
  • UI
  • Motion

What’s interesting, you can check the Dropbox logo files to get inspired when creating your own resource folder.

5. Audi

Audi recently redesigned its corporate identity with a goal to go digital first.

This Audi brand guidelines is probably the most exhaustive of all.

The Audi brand guideline is available online.

Audi Brand Guideline
Audi Brand Guideline

The Audi guidelines cover 9 elements:

  • Rings
  • Tagline
  • Colours
  • Typography
  • Layout Structure
  • Imagery
  • Illustration
  • Icons
  • Animation

But that’s just the basics, and apart form that you’ll also find other sections with guides on user interface, communication media, corporate sound, motion pictures and more.

You’ll also find what Audi calls “Brand Appearance” which explains the principles of how to use the brand elements.

With lots of example and instructions that convey the essentials and provide inspiration for ideas.

Audi emphasizes that “the brand is not a static structure but a living interface”.

It’s a very clear path to approaching the design of the Audi brand, you’ll get it right away.

6. Netflix

Netflix calls its standards a “Brand Site”.

This Netflix brand guidelines is the most basic of all.

You can find this simple logo guideline online on the Netflix Brand Site.

Netflix Brand Guidelines
Netflix Brand Guidelines

This style guide contains absolute minimum elements of the brand's visual identity like logo versions, colors and how to use it on media.

You’ll also find what to avoid, plus other considerations and rules to ensure proper use of the brand assets.

The Netflix guidelines cover 3 essential elements:

  • Logo
  • Symbol
  • Colors

Similarly to Youtube, this is an example of the most basic approach to creating a brand style guide.

You can also download all the assets and get inspired when creating your logo artwork.

7. Slack

Slacks calls its standards a “Media Kit”.

This Slack brand guidelines is the most basic of all.

You’ll find a dedicated page with embedded Slack Guidelines and logo files to download.

https://slack.com/media-kit
Slack Brand Guidelines

In the first section you’ll find elements the intangible elements that define the brand like: core values, personality and tone fo voice.

The Slack guidelines cover 7 elements:

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Brand Architecture
  • Illustrations
  • Icons
  • Photography

Unlike other examples, this is not a brand portal, but rather a simple page with a PDF embedded on it. (with an option to download)

However, I think it works and it can definitely help people use the brand assets correctly and maintain consistency.

It’s kind of an old-school approach, but it’s still better than just having no page at all or having to send the PDF by email every single time.

Conclusions

If you’re working on brand guidelines, these examples showcase some of the best practices.

You can see different kind of style guides and in a variety of complexity.

Also check out the Material Designs which you can use as a framework for your brand identity development.

Looking to hire for a branding project? — Just shoot me an email.

Which brand guidelines is best in your opinion and why? — Leave a comment below.

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