What’s the Difference? Brand Book, Brand Guidelines, Brand Bible, and Identity Guidelines

Many methodologies are available for a Brand Book, Brand Guidelines, Brand Bible, or Identity Guidelines, and there isn’t only 1 right answer

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A brand book is the physical manifestation of the living, breathing concept that is your brand. Without a guiding document, the Brand can spin out into an inconsistent set of representations. In an attempt to slow that process, Marketing Departments often develop Brand usage guidelines.  These guiding documents have a lot of names: Brand Book, Brand Guidelines, Brand Bible, Identity Guidelines, etc., etc., etc. But whatever you call it, the Brand Book helps to define the standard elements of the Brand identity, in an attempt to limit the inconsistency that would otherwise develop as the Brand is implemented and actively used.

There are a number of methodologies available for writing this Brand Book / Brand Guidelines / Brand Bible / Brand Usage Guide / or  Identity Guidelines,
and there really isn’t only ONE right answer.

  1. The first is a Brand Book, an overview document, describing the brand position, it’s history, how it was created and, briefly, how it is used. This document tends to be utilized as a source material for internal staff. It’s designed to help them understand the brand, and generally to know how to use brand elements. Examples of this kind of brand book include Santa Brand BookSun Microsystems, and Czech Design.
  2. An Identity Guidelines book is helpful for articulating to the marketing team and marketing partners the mechanics of exactly how the brand is to be used and displayed. This tends to be a very technical document. Examples of this kind of book include Netflix,  Lloyds, and Barbican.
  3. The third, Brand Guidelines, is a combination of the first two. It addresses the philosophy through the treatment of the brand elements. Examples of this kind of book include Skype, Jiffy Lube, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
  4. brand book, brand guidelines, identity guidelines, brand bible, co-branding guidelines, brand usage guidelineOccasionally, where a branded product or sub-brand needs to integrate with a parent brand, it is necessary to develop Co-Branding Guidelines. While the Duke Medicine Brand Guidelines spend a lot of time cover co-branding, a separate document for each of the co-branding instances may also be developed. Examples of co-branding guidelines include Wharton, UAB Medicine & Children’s Hospital of Alabama, and Novozymes.

The first thing you have to accept: these terms are used almost interchangeably, regardless of the type of document – so pick the phrase you like best and use it. The other encouragement I would give you – is to lean heavily toward option 1 or 3. Your Brand Story is the most important part, it gives the reader a reason to follow the guidelines and should make them feel proud to be a part of your Brand Book.

Your Brand Deserves a Brand Book

No matter what you call it, or what it’s scope is,  your Brand deserves to have a Brand Book to protect and shelter it from “good intention” and “bad taste.” Have I convinced you that you need a Brand Book? Good – just continue reading this Brand Book Tutorial to learn how to write your own Brand Book, Brand Guidelines, Brand Bible, or Identity Guidelines, your Brand will thank you for it.

See more from the Brand Book Tutorial Series

Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

Reader Interactions


  1. Adrian says

    Is there any publication where I can find info about classification of the brand books? I need it for my BA Thesis.

    • Tisha Oehmen says

      I’m sorry, I’m not aware of any one publication that has those definitions Adrian. I’d love to read your thesis when it’s completed though, would you share it?

  2. Mark says

    Do you know of an online resource for creating a brand book? In other words, a cloud solution that would step the user through the different elements of a brand book and build it online. Nice discussion of brand books- thank you.

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