10 Best Examples of Brand Guidelines

Arek Dvornechcuck
Branding Expert

I'm a strategist and designer based in New York who help brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch

10 Best Brand Guidelines

  1. Starbucks
  2. Uber
  3. YouTube
  4. Dropbox
  5. Audi
  6. Netflix
  7. Slack
  8. Spotify
  9. Instagram
  10. Zendesk

Looking to create a style guide?—Check out the Brand Guidelines Kit

Brand Guidelines Kit

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

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.

10 Best Brand Guidelines

  1. Starbucks
  2. Uber
  3. YouTube
  4. Dropbox
  5. Audi
  6. Netflix
  7. Slack
  8. Spotify
  9. Instagram
  10. Zendesk

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.

PS. This list include brand guidelines that are available online, if you're looking for more examples in PDF, check out my list of 100 best style guides.

PS 2. If you want to learn how to create a style guide—check out my YouTube video.

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 system is 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 simple page with embedded Slack Guidelines (PDF) and logo files to download.

Slack Brand Guidelines
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.

8. Spotify

Spotify calls its style guide simply “Design Guidelines”.

This Spotify brand guidelines is the most focused of all.

You will find that this brand standards is very specific to creating content for Spotify app.

The Spotify Guidelines
The Spotify design guidelines

The Spotify design guidelines have been created to ensure that all Spotify users receive the same delightful user experience.

For the most part, the Spotify style guide talks about how to present content on the app: album artworks and metadata.

The guide also describes browsing and linking to Spotify, how to design playing views and other specific elements to Spotify app.

Besides that, of course, the style guide also describes basics like:

  • Using the logo
  • Using the colors
  • Naming restrictions
  • Typography

Unlike other examples on my list, this one is very specific to the features of Spotify app.

What i really like about this guideline is that it is very well thought-out with pretty exhaustive explanations.

9. Instagram

instagram calls its guidelines “Brand Resources”.

The Instagram brand guidelines is the simplest of all.

On a dedicated, simple website, you will find some guidelines on how to use the logo, its do’s and don’ts.

Instagram brand guidelines
Instagram brand guidelines

The instagram brand guidelines consists of two extra sections: one with screenshot template and the other with broadcast template.

The instagram style guide is also specific (just like Spotify) but much simpler—it only describes the basics.

Mainly you will find how to use the Instagram logo, the glyph (black/white version) and the above mentioned two templates.

You’ll also find links to download the logo and templates.

10. Zendesk

Zendesk calls its guideline pretty uniquely “Brandland”.

The Zendesk brand guidelines is the most advanced of all.

The Zendesk style guide is especially interesting as it goes well beyond brand identity and into copywriting, film shooting, animation, sound, photography and even interior design and more!

Zendesk Brand Guideline
Zendesk Brand Guideline

The Zendesk brand guidelines has been developed to ensure that writing, visual style, design, videos—essentially everything they make works together to deliver a consistent message.

The opening pages talk a bit about the brand attributes and messaging.

In the design part of the guide you will find standard things like:

  • Brand identity
  • Typography
  • Color
  • Layout

However, in the following pages you will much more interesting sections, including:

* Presentation design
* Copywriting
* Film
* Experience

And each section has other subsections, so that ultimately it makes this guide pretty comprehensive.

What’s quite unusual about this guidelines is that it cover everything from visuals, to messaging to shooting film and photos, to animation, sound and even describes how Zendesk offices should look like.

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.

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

Also check out my Brand Guidelines Kit to help you design your own style guide in just hours, not months.

The Easiest Way To Create Brand Guidelines—The Brand Guidelines Kit.

Also check out my other relevant articles:

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

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