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In this article I will show you some of the best examples of brand guidelines, so that you can get inspired when creating your own style guide.
This is because designing, printing or fabricating elements of your brand identity system are all dependent on a set of solid brand guidelines.
A style guide is an important tool for helping a brand maintain a consistent and professional image.
The goal of having one is to save time, money, and frustration by allowing everyone on the team to easily create a consistent brand experience.
The size and nature of your organization will affect the depth and breadth of the content within your style guide.
That’s why I’ve included on my list both: very comprehensive as well as simple style guide examples (and everything in-between).
So that way you can decide as to what content you should include in your own guidelines for the marketing materials to look “on brand”.
PS. This list includes brand guidelines that are available online only, if you're looking for more examples in PDF format, check out my other article—100 best style guides.
PS2. Also check out the video version of this content on my YouTube channel:
Before we dive in to see the examples, let’s first shortly explain what a brand guidelines is and what elements it should include.
People call them brand guidelines, style guides, or manuals—but they basically refer to the same thing:
It is a document that describes how to create things that are “on brand”.
A brand guideline is basically a document telling you how to use the brand’s visual and verbal assets, in order to create a consistent look & feel across different media.
The goal of having one is to guide designers, marketers and everyone else who is working on your brand.
Brand guidelines come in different shape and form.
Most of them are in PDF format, but in this article we focus exclusively on online brand guidelines, otherwise known as “brand portals”.
Some of them are very extensive with multiple pages—describing all brand elements in much detail.
While other style guides just cover the basics:
Your brand guideline can include the elements of both: visual identity, but also verbal identity.
For example, it can also consist elements of your brand strategy: mission, vision, or tone of voice etc.
If you want to learn how to create a style guide, then check out my YouTube video.
So without further ado, let’s just look at these examples.
Starbucks calls this document the “Brand Expression Guide” and it basically gives you a high-level overview of how the Starbucks brand comes to life.
On the very first pages, you can actually see those “brand expressions” which are basically some case studies and examples of use.
The Starbucks’ brand guideline covers six brand elements:
I really like this microsite, it’s a great example of a well-designed online manual.
Having a dedicated website like this, that shows how to use the typography, color and layout, is very helpful to ensure brand consistency.
The Starbucks’ guideline is super easy to navigate and it includes everything you need in a solid style guide—A great example to get inspired by.
Dropbox calls its brand guideline “Design Standards” which is its end-to-end design guidelines for creating clear and simple experiences.
The content of this standards is grouped into four sections:
It’s a pretty comprehensive style guide that covers all the necessities.
They’ve created a dedicated, separate website (just as Starbucks)—Visit: dropboxdesignstandards.com
If you go to “Foundation” you can find there all the basics like:
There are also unique sections like “Customer Journey” and “Product visuals”, so that you can design elements fast and easy (and with consistency).
Audi recently redesigned its corporate identity with a goal to go digital first—check out the Audi’s “Brand Appearance” guide.
This brand guideline is probably the most comprehensive of all.
The Audi guidelines cover 9 elements:
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.
This style guide consists of plenty examples 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”.
Overall, It’s a very clear (and detailed) path to approaching the design of the Audi brand, you’ll certainly “get it” right away.
Spotify calls its style guide simply: “Design Guidelines” and what’s unique about it, is that it’s very specific to creating content for Spotify app.
The Spotify guidelines have been created to ensure that all Spotify users receive the same delightful user experience, every single time.
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:
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’s very well thought-out with pretty exhaustive explanations.
Next, we have the Walmart’s brand guideline, or rather what they call “Brand Center”.
The Walmart’s standards consists of three guides underneath:
Overall, this is a pretty solid document that also describes some strategic elements like: brand mission, strategies and initiatives and more.
This is a great examples of a manual that really goes above and beyond to describe how to use the Walmart’s brand—you’ll find there some extra sections like:
Walmart’s style guide is built by using the LingoApp, which is a platform you can use to host your style guide online.
Zendesk calls its brand guideline pretty uniquely “Brandland” and in my opinion—it’s one of the most advanced of all.
The Zendesk style guide is especially interesting as it goes well beyond describing the brand identity system.
It also talk about things like: copywriting, film shooting, animation, sound, photography and even interior design and more!
The identity guideline from Zendesk has been developed to ensure that all writing, visual style, design, videos—everything 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:
However, in the following pages you will much more interesting sections, including:
Each section of this guide has other subsections within, so that ultimately it goes deep into describing everything in much detail.
Next on my list is Keap, which is the new name and branding of the company that was previously known as“Infusionsoft”.
This company is not as big as the others on my list, but I though it makes for a great example of how a good style guide should look like.
Besides the obvious basics, there is also a whole new section about brand voice and how to use it, which I find particularly interesting.
And what I really like about it, is that you can just click on the logo and download the files that you need right away, without having to log-in or request the files.
Asana calls its document simply “Asana Brand Guidelines” (nothing unique) which is a pretty simple one-pager, it just covers the absolute minimum.
You’ll find there information about the logo and its sizes, clear-space, and color versions.
Of course, there is also a section about the Logo Dont’s (what NOT to do with the logo).
Plus, there is some other information about using the Asana Trademark.
But nonetheless, this is an example of a very simple brand guidelines that includes the bare minimum.
Netflix calls its online brand standards simply a “Brand Site” but in reality it’s more of a “logo guideline” because it’s rather pretty basic.
This Netflix brand guidelines is the most basic of all.
The Netflix guidelines cover three essential elements of the brand’s identity:
Plus, you’ll also find what to avoid, and some other considerations and rules to ensure proper use of the brand assets.
For example, there is the “Readability” section which is pretty interesting—it talk about making sure there is enough contrast between logo and background.
There is also a bit about how to use the Netflix logo with other partner’s logos.
Similarly to Youtube, this is a good example of the most basic approach to creating an online style guide.
Instagram calls its online standards document—“Brand Resources”, which is also a great example of a simple style guide.
On a dedicated, simple website, you will find some guidelines on how to use the logo (glyph) and some do’s and don’ts.
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 just describes the basics.
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.
TikTok’s style guide on the other hand, covers a bit more that the Instagram’s does.
There are some additional introductory pages that describe the brand, the design concept and the idea behind it, which is pretty cool!
Of course we have the basics covered as well, things like:
In summary it’s a simple style guide, but it includes all the information you need to be able to bring the TikTok brand to life.
ActiveCampaign presents us with yet another example is of a basic brand guideline.
It’s just a single page with basic information on how the logo should be used.
Active Campaign has just two logo color variations.
The logo in white is used when on a dark background.
The logo in base color (blue) is used on a light background.
Discord calls its manual simply “Branding Guidelines”.
The Discord’s style guide is just a page with basic information about the brand.
It contains elements like:
Basically, it’s an example of a very minimal style guide online.
However, there is an option to download the full PDF version of the Discord’s style guide.
BTW, also check out my article where I feature 100 Style Guides in PDF format.
Salesforce calls its online version the brand guideline—“Brand Central”.
On Salesforce website you can learn about the brand, its values and some more strategic elements.
Of course it covers the essentials as well, things like:
The Salesforce Guideline is actually like a style guide within a style guide, because those elements are clearly separated with a dedicated sub-page for each.
So if you visit all these pages, you’ll find out that it’s not that basic as you might think, it actually covers quite a bit about the brand.
The last but not least on my list is—YouTube with its guideline called “Brand Resources”.
The Youtube’s brand resources page contains of just four essential brand elements:
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 of use.
The YouTube’s style guide is short and sweet, but it’s got everything you’ll want from a style guide.
This is probably one of the most basic version of a brand guideline, besides the above mentioned Instagram and ActiveCampaign.
If you’re looking to just create a simple online page with brand assets—this is a great example of how to do so.
If you’re working on your brand guidelines—these examples showcase some of the best practices when it comes to style guide creation.
By checking out these guidelines you can understand various approaches, as they come in different sizes (some are simple, other very detailed).
Which brand guidelines is best in your opinion and why?—Leave a comment below
If you browse my portfolio, you will see that I use a template with all my clients.
I develop this 70-page style guide template in InDesign, so that I don’t have to design everything from scratch, every single time.
So if you want to be able to develop your style guide fast and easy (in PDF format), then check out the Brand Guidelines Kit.
Just customize my template for your new client and replace the content inside (structure and descriptions are already there!).
If you’re looking to hire an expert to create a style guide for you—Start you project here.