As a freelancer, I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients over the years, ranging in size from one employee to tens of thousands. No matter the size, though, I’ve found that one thing decides whether the designs coming from the company are cohesive or look completely random- having branding guidelines. Whether it’s for internal employees who are putting together a document, internal designers who are creating something new, or external contractors such as myself, good brand guidelines help make EVERY piece of material coming from a company look great and communicate how a brand represents itself. Brand guidelines can range in size and detail. Below I’ve made a list from the most important components in a brand guide to the least.

1. The logo (one light and one dark), brand colors (including hex codes), and preferred typography (one for headlines and one for body text). These are by far the most important components to include as they are the basic building blocks of any brand.

2. Any assets you’ve had created for you in the past or have purchased, including illustrations, infographics, and images.

3. A guide to any shapes that you use in your branding, whether circles, blocks, or amorphous blobs.

4. Brand voice- examples of this could be “friendly and warm,” or “professional but welcoming.” Some companies have pages upon pages about their brand voice, even naming it as a person with characteristics, but smaller companies just have a sentence or two about it.

5. Accessibility guidelines to follow. This could include making sure alt text is added to images, checking contrast ratios, and minimum sizing for buttons and text.

There is so much more that can be included, but these are the basics that make my life as a freelancer so much easier!