Creating a Brand Identity Manual for Small Businesses

Once you have developed what your brand image is, you need to condense it into written form to be shared across your organization. In our previous post, we gave you a lowdown on what brand identity manuals are and why they are important.

Now, let’s walk through how you can actually go about creating one for your business.

What’s in a Brand Identity Manual?

Mission Statement

What’s one thing that your brand does really, really well? Condense this into one sentence and tell your audience what’s most important to you. Keep the language jargon-free and easy to understand. It should be very clear for anyone who reads it. Here are some examples of mission statements from some of the world’s biggest brands:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

- Nike

“To refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, to create value and make a difference.”

- The Coca Cola Company

“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”


Brand Core Values

Specify the core values which your company stands for in a clear and concise way. A good idea is to narrow the core values that are vital to your brand and its beliefs down to four or five points. It is very important to be clear at this step, because your brand needs to be consistent across all platforms so your customers know what they can expect from your brand when interacting with it.

Tone of Voice

Do you approach your audience like a friend or colleague, or would you prefer to communicate from a highly professional standpoint? Your tone of voice is crucial, especially when it comes to ongoing communication methods within social media channels, messaging in advertising, and email threads.

In their advertisements and commercials, Spotify talks to users as if they were a friendly acquaintance with whom they’d meet up for lunch. This says a lot about the way Spotify would like users to perceive their brand’s tone.

In contrast, Rolex uses very formal and intimidating ads and language to enhance its image as a producer of prestigious and exclusive goods.


Keywords are extremely important for SEO. They should be included as necessary within all content, including your brand’s website, blog and/or social media content, and any other material that helps your audience reach your brand more easily.

Therefore, including a list of keyword phrases and families in your brand manual helps your content creators know what words you are trying to rank for. Keywords can also be helpful in other aspects of your brand, as it helps people discern what registry of vocabulary your company should use when communicating. This is really helpful if you plan on hiring freelance copywriters or having guest writers write content and copy for your website.

Slogans and Taglines

The more that your brand’s slogan resonates with its big idea, the more memorable it will be. Brand slogans sometimes include coined words, rhymes and puns — although not always a tasteful idea, these can help the slogans become more relatable and memorable.

A brand tagline differs from a slogan in its scope — while a slogan should represent an individual product and can be included in a particular advertising campaign, a tagline should be a short line of text that represents your business as a whole.

Some examples of solid taglines are the California Milk Processor Brands trademark “Got Milk?” or McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”.


Brand personas are certain profiles of individuals that your brand aims to reach and interact with. It’s best to nail down your brand personas as specifically as you can, specifying their social demographics as well as their personal characteristics.

Logo and Design

There’s a lot that can be said about brand logos and logo design. Once you’ve pinned down the values and attributes you’d like to bring to the public, you can start working together with a graphic designer in order to create a logo that appropriately aligns with these values.

Once you have a logo, you need to make sure it can be reproduced to the exact specifications you want it to. Therefore, specify both the Pantone Color and the RGB, HEX, and CMYK values of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors that your brand uses, including both correct and incorrect color combinations. This ensures that designers use the exact colors of your brand on any media or format you may want to display it on, and know how to do so correctly.

It is also helpful to designate a grayscale version of your logo if you will be using it on a lot of print or if you will add it to branded downloadable materials. Color ink costs more and a lot of individuals and institutions such as schools, do not normally keep color ink on hand.

Additionally, set out how your logo is meant to be displayed. If you want it displayed vertically straight, don’t allow others to position it at a tilted angle or lay it on its right side. As with many other aspects of your brand, it’s important that your logo’s presentation stays simple and consistent.

A company that uses a very effective color scheme and logo is Target, which sticks to a simple yet consistent color scheme of red and white — any other color wouldn’t properly resonate with the palette that has been established for the brand.

Style guidelines, which set out how the logo should be displayed, should be flexible enough for designers to be creative but rigid enough to keep your brand easily recognizable.

What font(s) your company will use is also very important. Don’t believe me? Imagine if Nike started using Comic Sans in their content — wouldn’t it feel strange? Wouldn’t it come off as contrary to the rest of the image the brand projects?

Font choice plays a big part in the way that your audience perceives your brand’s tone and demeanor and is often an overlooked part of a company’s image.

The particular design that you choose to include in your brand identity manual should, of course, line up with the formatting/design rules that you spell out within the manual.

For a good example of design style guides, see Google’s Visual Asset Guidelines.


Where do you see your content being shown in the media? Provide a handful of visual examples of both correct and incorrect usage of your brand, giving others a concrete idea of how and how not to allow your brand to interact with members of your target audience.

For instance, it’d be more appropriate for a GoPro advertisement to be featured within a photography or outdoor sports magazine than it would be for it to appear in a publication that focuses on interior design.

The more people your company employs or outsources to, the more formalized and structured your brand manual information needs to be. Also, keep in mind that the exact description of each of these sections should be tweaked and customized in order to best fit the individual character of your brand.

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