Branding Lessons

How To Create Visual Brand Identity Guidelines

I have written about why organizations and companies have brand & style guidelines and the steps to building your own visual brand identity. Now, I would like to take you through a recently finished identity project for Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority.

Tau Beta Sigma is a co-educational national honorary band sorority dedicated to serving college and band programs.

Tau Beta Sigma operates primarily as a student service and leadership recognition society whose chief aim is to assist the Director of Bands in developing the leadership and enthusiasm that they require of their band.

Crafting a visual brand identity is not an easy task, especially when you doing it for a large national organization rich in history, relevance, and influence. These visual assets will help tell an important story and must resonate with sisters (active and alumni), the band community, and the public at large. Getting to this point involved conversations, directives, and insights from the National Council, Board of Trustees, and the Alumni Association. This playbook will educate sisters on how to properly communicate the mission, message, and personality of Tau Beta Sigma.

The cover hints at what’s inside with the main elements (the baton, the harp) previewed.

The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the document. The format of the section title on the top left and the page number on the bottom right will be consistent throughout. It is here where the purpose of the guide is laid out and contact information is provided. Knowing the purpose always helps give the reader perspective.

Tau Beta Sigma Introduction

The brand presence page outlines the mission, vision, motto, and brand personality. This page speaks to the purpose of the organization itself. Brand personality gives words that are often associated with the sorority. These words are also suggestive. We want people in and out of the band community to associate Tau Beta Sigma with these words.  We also want the actions (and visual content) of sisters to reflect these words.

The Coat of Arms page outlines proper usage of the official crest of the sorority and features alternate versions of the crest. Visually showing the best way to use your official graphics ensures proper use.

Tau Beta Sigma Crest

The color palette page covers the official crest and the official flag and pulls the colors from those elements. Colors are very powerful in identity. Providing specific Pantone, CMYK, and RGB values helps people to produce graphics (digital and print) that link properly to the brand as a whole.

The logomarks page covers the formal logo and greek logo.The logo acts as the identifier of the brand so teaching proper spacing and usage is crucial. The more relevant instruction on usage, the better. The next page covers alternate versions. In your guidelines, you are not just showing off elements you’ve created for promulgation. You must think of different scenarios and provide guidance.

Tau Beta Sigma logos

The unacceptable uses page is where you think of negative scenarios and guard against the most egregious offenses. Visually highlighting them helps in that mission.


The typography page outlines the font choice(s) you’ve made for use in communication. Choosing at least a main serif and a main sans serif font is usually encouraged. Continuing the theme of showing AND telling, you lay out the different weights and give examples of each.

The other pages include other logomarks (incl. Tau Beta Sigma Alumni Association brand identity) and applications of the brand identity.

Guidelines may be updated or tweaked in the future after seeing applications and experiencing different scenarios. But this initial document will serve as the foundation for the visual brand identity of this organization moving forward.


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