The Ultimate Guide to Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines

Learn how to create a comprehensive set of visual and non-visual brand guidelines that will provide guidance for your team on maintaining consistent messaging across all customer touchpoints.

The Ultimate Guide to Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines
Photo by Shubham Dhage / Unsplash

Your brand is more than just a logo and a color scheme. It's the entire package of what your company represents, from its values to how it speaks and acts. To ensure brand consistency across all mediums, you need visual and non-visual brand guidelines.

This guide will provide an overview of these guidelines, why they're essential for any business, and how to create them. Whether you're just starting your brand guide or looking to refine your existing branding guidelines, this guide has everything compelling to help build a clear visual and non-visual branding strategy.

What Are the Brand Guidelines?

Brand elements

Brand elements are the various components that make up an organization's brand identity. This includes logos, typography, colors, slogan and tagline, imagery, audio, animation, and videos. All these elements combine to create a company's unique personality and help customers recognize it in the marketplace.

Logos are often considered the most crucial element of a brand as they provide instant recognition and evoke emotion in customers. This is why companies should develop a logo that stands out from competitors yet still reflects their core values. Careful consideration should also be given to selecting font types, sizes, and colors for all logos and other visual elements to remain consistent across platforms.

Slogans and taglines can also quickly communicate what a brand stands for while resonating with its target audience. They should be short yet memorable phrases that capture the brand's essence in just a few words. Imagery plays an equally important role in helping people remember brands at first glance - products or services should always be represented visually through photographs or illustrations to engage customers emotionally.

Audio and video can also tell stories about a company's mission or values without relying solely on images or words. Animation can also make complex concepts easier to understand while adding another layer of entertainment value for viewers. By combining all these elements effectively, organizations can create solid and lasting relationships with their customers by consistently conveying who they are and what they stand for.

Brand Guidelines

Braines refer to standards, rules, and instructions used to maintain a consistent visual appearance and messaging for a company or organization. The brand team often creates these as brand guidelines templates for the department to ensure that all communications from the organization — from its website to its print materials — are consistent with the overall brand identity. A simple brand guidelines template can serve as a comprehensive reference for everyone involved in creating content that represents the company and helps maintain brand recognition and messaging.

What Are the Brand Guidelines?
Source: Jannis Lucas on Unsplash

Brand guidelines typically include details about the company logo, color palette, typography, imagery, tone of voice, and other elements that make up the visual style guide and design. They should be used across different mediums to ensure consistency across all communications. Additionally, they often address more subtle aspects of design, such as layout techniques and the use of white space.

Visual Brand Guidelines

Visual brand guidelines provide detailed instructions on using the brand book organization's logo, color palette, typography, illustration style, imagery, layout techniques, and other design elements to create a cohesive and recognizable visual presence across all mediums.

Visual brand guidelines aim to create a unified aesthetic for the core elements of the company or organization's brand identity – from web and mobile interfaces to print materials – that resonates with its target audience. The brand's logo should be used consistently in its correct format and colors, while typography should adhere to predetermined typefaces and sizes. Additionally, any photos or illustrations used to create brand guidelines should reflect the overall look and feel of the brand to communicate its message better.

Visual Brand Guidelines
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Furthermore, visual brand guidelines can help other brands build customer trust by demonstrating a commitment to quality design standards. Organizations can use brand guidelines to show customers that their products are reliable and trustworthy by adhering to their brand guidelines and specific policies. For example, suppose an organization consistently uses brand colors across all its publications. Customers will begin recognizing this as part of the company's identity and may be more likely to trust its products.

For visual brand guidelines to be practical, they must be appropriately implemented across all channels where the company's branding is represented. It includes websites, emails, digital ads, print marketing materials such as business cards or brochures, signage at events or retail locations, social media posts, packaging labels, etc. It is also crucial that these effective brand guidelines are regularly reviewed and updated to keep up with changing trends and maintain brand relevance over time.

Non-Visual Brand Guidelines

Non-Visual Brand Guidelines are just as important as their visual counterparts in helping to establish a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. These guidelines encompass everything from messaging, voice, and tone to customer service expectations and the values that should be communicated in all communications.

Non-Visual Brand Guidelines
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Non-visual brand guidelines should begin with developing a mission statement that encompasses the organization's core values and philosophy. It will help ensure that all communication created by the organization is aligned with this mission, regardless of medium or channel. Additionally, organizations must consider how customers perceive them when crafting their non-visual brand elements. Are they professional but approachable? Quirky and creative? These characteristics must come across in all of their communications.

Organizations should also create a brand guide with key messages that can be used to communicate the brand's purpose and values clearly and consistently across all channels. The messaging should be adapted slightly depending on the medium but remain consistent with the brand's voice and identity. Additionally, organizations must decide what type of language they want associated with their brand (e.g., formal vs. informal) and ensure that this tone is carried throughout all communications to build customer trust.

Finally, non-visual brand guidelines must address customer service standards and internal protocols for handling customer inquiries. Customer service should always remain friendly and helpful no matter what platform or medium customers use to contact the company (phone, email, social media). Furthermore, any internal policies or procedures should be clearly outlined so everyone understands how issues should be handled effectively and efficiently going forward.

The goal of creating non-visual brand guidelines is to ensure that every communication from the organization reflects its core values and builds recognition among its target audience. By establishing both visual and non-visual corporate branding standards, companies can better create a cohesive identity that resonates with customers while projecting professionalism at every touchpoint.

Brand Guidelines VS Brand Voice

Since both brand guidelines and voice play an essential role in creating a unified brand identity, organizations need to clearly understand what each entails to develop their own standards accordingly.

Leica Brand Guidelines
Source: Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

When developing brand guidelines, organizations must consider all areas where their brand has visibility - websites, emails, digital ads, print materials such as business cards or brochures, signs at events or retail locations, and packaging labels - and establish rules on how each should be presented. This includes deciding on specific brand colors and creating logos templates that maintain consistency across all channels. Keeping up with emerging trends is important when creating brand guidelines so the organization’s branding remains relevant.

To create a unique brand voice, organizations must begin by developing critical messages that can be used to communicate this mission consistently, no matter what medium or channel they use for communication with customers. Organizations must also decide on the type of language they want to associate with their brand (e.g., formal vs. informal) to set expectations on how customer service should sound or look them. Finally, internal policies or procedures should also be outlined to ensure everyone within the organization knows how customer inquiries should be handled correctly and efficiently in the future.

Why Do You Need Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines?

Visual and non-visual brand guidelines are essential for any organization seeking to create a recognizable and cohesive identity. They provide a structure that ensures that all communications — from websites, emails, and digital ads to signage, packaging labels, and social media posts — are consistent with the company's core values and purpose. Visual brand guidelines help ensure that design elements, such as colors, logos, fonts, etc., are used in an effective and unified manner across all channels. Non-visual brand guidelines provide the foundation for conveying these designs by specifying messaging, voice and tone, customer service expectations, and other vital details.

Why Do You Need Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines?
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Having visual and non-visual consistent brand identity guidelines is key to establishing trust between customers and organizations. Consistency helps to create recognition of a company's identity as customers begin to recognize its visual elements when they see them repeatedly across different channels. Additionally, having unified messaging across all platforms conveys professionalism, which can provide reassurance for customers looking for reliable products or services.

Furthermore, regular reviews of visual and non-visual brand guidelines can help keep organizations updated with changing trends while maintaining relevance. For example, suppose an organization changes its logo or adds new brand colors to its branding palette to remain modernized. In that case, these changes must be implemented across all platforms where the company is represented. Doing so will ensure that customers receive consistent branding information no matter where they interact with the organization.

In conclusion, organizations need visual and non-visual brand guidelines to effectively communicate their purpose while creating trust among customers through strong brand guidelines and consistency across all channels. Establishing strong brand standards aids in recognizing an organization's identity while also helping them stay relevant over time by adapting visuals with current trends and regularly reviewing its brand style guides and messaging to ensure it remains on point with its mission.

Visual and non-visual brand guidelines are essential
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How to Create Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines

Creating practical visual and non-visual brand guidelines is essential for creating a recognizable brand consistent and cohesive identity. To establish this brand consistency and strong standards, companies must first identify their core values and purpose to determine how they should be conveyed across different channels.

Once established, companies can create simple and clear brand guidelines, with unified visuals such as logos, colors, fonts, etc., and messaging that conveys their mission statement. When creating visual brand guidelines, it's important to select brand colors that represent the organization's identity while being easy on the eye. It is also recommended to pick a logotype that best suits the company's message, such as an iconic or symbolic logo for those wanting something recognizable and memorable.

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Any fonts used should be consistent throughout all branding materials. Sans Serif fonts are typically preferred due to their clean style. Additionally, it's important to note any potential legal issues when using images or icons in design elements. Non-visual brand guidelines involve establishing standards for messaging and tone of brand voice across all platforms. Companies should define their target audience and ensure all content is tailored accordingly while remaining consistent with their core values and purpose.

How to Create Visual and Non-Visual Brand Guidelines
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Messaging should also reflect the brand's personality and what sets them apart from competitors; by creating something distinct yet, recognizable, customers will have a stronger connection with the brand. It is also essential for companies to emphasize customer service expectations through all communications. This will build trust between customers and the organization over time.

When creating visual and non-visual brand guidelines, companies must remain agile enough to adapt to changing trends while maintaining relevance. It includes regularly reviewing visuals such as logos or colors if needed, as well as terms used in communication that could become outdated over time due to cultural changes or evolving language use. Doing so will help keep brands fresh in customers' minds and remind them why they chose your company above competitors in the first place. In conclusion, clear visual and non-visual brand guidelines are essential for organizations seeking to create a recognizable identity among their target audience while building trust through consistent brand messaging across various platforms and touchpoints.

Creating visual and non-visual brand guidelines
Source: Brands&People on Unsplash

Companies should identify their core values before developing design elements such as logos or colors and messaging that conveys these values distinctively yet recognizably among their customers. Furthermore, organizations must remain agile enough by regularly reviewing visuals and terms used in communication to maintain relevance over time with changing societal trends. Following these steps will help ensure customers have a seamless experience across all touchpoints and keep them returning to your organization.

Brand Guidelines Examples

I Love New York

I Love New York may be known for its classic T-shirts, yet the company has a complete brand style guide. Their extensive guidelines for graphic designers start with an in-depth look at their mission statement, vision, backstory, and targeted audience to ensure that brand messaging is consistent across all products. It also provides instructions on correctly using logo placement on merchandise items and other branding material.

New York Hotels, Things To Do | Official Guide To New York State
Source: I Love NY


Tourists and tourism marketers alike are sure to agree that a positive rating can do wonders for any hotel or destination. TripAdvisor is not only one of the most respected platforms in this regard, but its presence offline and on truly emphasizes its significance. Not only do websites share these ratings directly within their content or campaigns, but even restaurants showcase them at the entrance!

Establishing a concise visual identity for an internationally-recognized brand is key, especially when there's no shared language. To ensure their brand assets are recognized and trusted worldwide, they have meticulously specified every detail—even the bubbles rating system—down to the last atom. This kind of attention towards building trustworthiness reinforces customer confidence in the brand and any businesses that receive its ratings.

Tripadvisor: Over a billion reviews & contributions for Hotels,  Attractions, Restaurants, and more
Source: Tripadvisor

The Bottom Line

The end goal of both visual and non-visual brand guidelines is to ensure that every time someone interacts with your business — whether through an advertisement on TV or a simple tweet on social media — they have a consistent experience that reinforces your brand story and overall message. By creating practical branding standards, you and the creative team can make an engaging customer experience that keeps them returning.