ten commandments of the brand bible

And the client said, “We’re finally ready to go full-steam in a rebranding effort.” And it was so.

The importance of a new brand identity when an existing one has become or outdated, tarnished, or just plain stale is widely understood by the clients who approach us. And their knowledge of the importance of having identity standards—a vital corporate document which we’ve covered in previous newsletters—to maintain a consistent brand look-and-feel is obvious.

However, when they hear about the far more overarching brand bible (or brand book) their reaction is less than thrilled. As part of our d5 process we interview stakeholders and customers to get a sense of internal and external perspective of the company as it exists, audit their existing branding, review the competitive landscape, define their company archetype, and provide strategic recommendations for their future brand; despite this, their lack of enthusiasm demonstrates that their trust in designers is strictly limited to aesthetic matters. It almost feels like a disservice that the result of this massive effort is a set of identity guidelines, if not a mere logo.

That’s why, to make the most out of our efforts and provide the most comprehensive return on our client’s investment, we stress the importance of a brand bible. While it includes everything that is covered in the identity guidelines, it also articulates to the client’s marketing team the base philosophy of the company, reaffirms their position, and is more comprehensive in addressing brand element usage.

The Ten Commandments of the Brand Bible:

1) Thou shalt convey the company vision and brand position.
2) Thou shalt display logo specifications, proper usage, and restrictions
3) Thou shalt define the typography and typographic hierarchy of the brand
4) Thou shalt provide primary and accent color palettes profiles
5) Thou shalt direct photographic subject matter, mood, and necessary editing requirements
6) Thou shalt define grid usage and established web or presentation themes
7) Thou shalt include any signage, business cards, letterhead, etc., established using the new identity
8) Thou shalt specify proper corporate iconographic direction
9) Thou shalt, either explicitly or by example, convey brand tone of voice
10) Thou shalt provide adequate examples of all of the above

As comprehensive as it seems, the brand bible is not complete—nor should it be. We prefer to leave some wiggle room when strategizing. That way, rather than being too restrictive, the client can assume some ownership and grow into the new brand. After all, what could go wrong when a bible gets interpreted with a grain of salt?