Professional Learning Tools and Resources

Visual Style Guide on How to Build a Brand Bible

Craft a powerful brand identity: Learn to build a brand bible with a comprehensive visual style guide. Elevate your brand's impact.

Every Brand Bible, from the smallest website or startup to corporate giants such as Nike or McDonald’s, needs a set of branding guidelines and rules to maintain its identity. This document, which can range from a couple of pages to several hundred, is the thread that holds together what the public sees from a company.

A brand bible establishes the voice and personality of a company, as well as who the public will see, and it governs every aspect of communication from the company. The brand bible is the basis for all interactions on behalf of a company – personal communications, social media, advertising and design. While a brand bible focuses on many things, we will examine how it affects design.

What Is a Brand Bible?

A brand bible or book is a document that establishes distinct guidelines on how all aspects of a company’s brand will be handled. It should establish rules for creating a unified and identifiable presence for your brand. It includes everything from the design of a logo and how it can be used, to letterhead, the look of a website, personal communications and how it all looks.the brand bible

The brand bible is meant to help employees properly use and communicate a brand’s message. It outlines brand goals and the company philosophy. Further, it answers a few key questions: What is the correct spelling and use of the brand (and afflicted) names? What images are associated with the brand and product lines? In what ways can/should the company logo be used? What are people allowed to say about the brand? What marketing tactics are preferred or encouraged versus what marketing tactics should not be used?

What should go into a brand bible?

Do a quick scan of Google, and you will see most brand practitioners recommend a table of contents that includes:

  • An overview of the brand, including its history, vision and personality,
  • Brand graphics, including logo design, logo usage, typography palette, and color palette,
  • Visual communication standards, including photography style,
  • Practical graphic applications, including letterhead and business card design.

It is a great foundation. To me, though, what’s missing is an exploration of the brand’s relationship with the world around it. Yes, history, vision and personality help. But it’s when you contextualize history, vision and personality you begin to understand why the brand developed as it did. Useful yet often overlooked elements might include:

The brand’s target audience is an actual person (a persona or avatar, for the meme-centric among us). Make that person appear before me as if Scotty had just beamed them up for us to meet.

  • The brand’s power score. It boils down to comparing the strengths and weaknesses of your brand vs. other brands. What are you good at that they’re no good at? What are you weak in that they’re strong in? Where does everyone fail? Where is everyone awesome?
  • Key terms people use when describing the brand.
  • The optimal user experience. What does that relationship entail when someone discovers, shops, buys and lives with your brand?
  • Key visuals. Is there a picture that sums up the brand perfectly? Not the logo, mind you. Please think of the Krazy Glue guy hanging from a rafter by his helmet.

Why is a brand bible important?

One word: value. When a brand presents itself as cohesive, not confused, it increases the brand’s perceived value.

Consistency allows your brand to appear more professional and reliable. I’ve been brought in to work on brands by M&A firms who wanted to take that brand to market – the money people fully understood that a singular, focused brand drove the valuation of the entire company up.

By agreeing on, mapping out, and implementing a brand bible, you make it easier to maintain the quality and integrity of your brand’s image.

Think of the brand as a living, breathing human. We don’t like people whose personalities are inconsistent or erratic. We worry about the mental health of that person. Brands, as the personalities of products or services, are held to the same standard.

Brand Bibble serves as a guide for designers. A good brand bible outlines all of the basic design tools needed to create and disseminate company communications – from allowable typefaces and styles to a color palette, image use, text and tone, and the emotion portrayed by the brand.

Logo Usagelogo usage

Once you have the perfect logo, it is important to maintain the integrity of it across platforms. It includes how the logo will be used, from placement to acceptable alterations.

Adobe’s 2010 Brand Guidelines define exactly how the logo can be used, outlining placement, size and surrounding white space. Remember, your logo is the simplest thing people have to identify your brand; make sure you consistently use that image.

Fonts and Typography

There should be a defined style for every bit of type used for a brand, for both print and digital applications. Rules for typography should be clear and distinct, from what typefaces are acceptable, how each is used, and guidelines for additional styling, size and use of color.

Select a few typefaces that will be used in design projects. It may include one set of rules for print projects and another for digital applications. But make sure the typefaces have some common links. For example, many web designers prefer sans serif typefaces for body text, whereas you may prefer a serif style for print. Find a commonality between the two. Consider a headline or “big type” style that you can use for both types of design projects.

Most brands use one of two primary typefaces. The example above from the North Carolina State University Brand Book uses the Univers family, both regular and condensed styles. Then select a complimentary typeface and substitute typefaces. Ideally, the brand should include no more than five typefaces and their usage.


A defined color palette can be one of the most important aspects of the brand bible. Consider the Golden Arches and colors that represent McDonald’s, for example. Would you as clearly recognize this company if the giant M was another color?

The brand bible should outline each color and how it should be used. It includes colors that appear only in a logo to those used for backgrounds, text and other design elements. The number of colors in a palette should be kept to a minimum and can include fully saturated versions and tints.

Further, the document should clearly define each color by name and value for various projects. Choose primary, secondary and alternate colors for the palette. Define each color with values for print (CMYK) and digital projects (RGB, HEX). Also, note Pantone colors as such with their assigned values.

Imagesimages for brand bibble

Guidelines for images are about more than just whether you will rely on photography, illustrations, or other types of graphics. The brand bible should detail how images will be gathered, edited and used.

Nike, for example, relies on large, tight, high-contrast images to draw you in. The I Love NY campaign above uses location-based images from photos restyled as drawings to capture attention and create a feel.

Image guidelines should also define when and how certain types of images are used. Will you use photography or illustrations, or both? Is clip art use acceptable? How will images be edited? Will they be black and white or color? All of these questions should be answered in your image guidelines.

Text and Tone

Finally, you want to ensure the things you say align with the brand image. It applies to everything from the headlines in an ad, the tone of a press release, and how blog posts are structured.

Outline the type of acceptable language that will be used. Should the tone be formal or more conversational? Who is the audience you plan to target? Write to them. defined its brand jargon in simple terms and used a style that mirrors the tone of actual communications. For the brand, simplicity is the key. Skype follows a similar philosophy, showcasing words the company likes and does not like.

Using a consistent and distinct tone can help clients and customers identify with a brand and creates an association with what the brand stands for. When creating guidelines for text and tone, think about words you want to be connected to – cool, trustworthy, hip, beautiful, efficient, top-notch. Use those as the outline for your rules.


A tagline describes what makes your business unique in just a few words. For example, Nike’s tagline is “Just Do It,” which reflects its product quality and attitude toward fitness. Taglines are also often used as social media bios on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for businesses of all sizes! A tagline should be short and memorable but not too long or complicated.

Mission statement 

A mission statement is a sentence that describes your business’ purpose in the world. For example, Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Brand Values brand values

Your values are the beliefs that you hold most dear. When a client asks what your company’s values are, they’re not asking you to recite a laundry list of things like punctuality, quality, and customer service. Instead, they want to know your fundamental beliefs as an organization and why those beliefs matter.

Brand Personality 

Your brand’s personality is the unique identity that defines who you are as a company. It’s more than just your logo, colors, and fonts—it’s how you communicate with customers (and everyone else). Your brand personality can be playful or serious, traditional or modern, but it should always be consistent across all platforms.


In creating your brand bible, think of how it will be used. This document is a reference material and guide for how the company should be portrayed to the public. Include examples and specifics. Keep the guidelines direct and simple but also consider how restricting they can be. Too strict guidelines can limit creativity and new designs; too loose guidelines may result in multiple or disjointed brand identities.

Use your brand bible as starting point and establish a culture around it that allows designers room for creative thought while maintaining the brand’s aura in various projects. Remember, the book’s ultimate goal is to create a distinct and unified presence for your brand.


Nayab Kiran

About Author

A highly skilled and professional WordPress developer and publisher. My expertise lies in creating visually stunning and functional websites that captivate users. Furthermore, I excel as a content writer, crafting unique and engaging content across various niches. Through my entrepreneurial skills, I assist businesses in achieving professional growth and success.

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