RIP PDF Brand Guidelines - Long live Digital!

PDFs can PDF-off when it comes to brand guidelines. We explore 7 major issues with static brand guidelines and discuss some digital solutions.

Let us take a bold prediction and guess that your brand guidelines are in a static format like a PDF and you have no idea who has access to them or when they were last updated. Trust us, you are not alone.

Our goal here is to outline how having your guidelines in a PDF format is ultimately hurting your brand image and could even be stunting your brand growth. But don’t worry, there is a solution.


1. Expensive to create

Traditionally, companies will employ an external agency to create their brand guidelines. This can be done after your brand has already been created or part of brand creation or redesign.

However, how close can an agency really be? Do they understand your brand, your goals, your essence?

Once an agency completes your brand guidelines, you'll likely receive an uneditable PDF that will be outdated soon or worse, sitting on a designers desktop where no one else can see it.

Solution: Create your own digital guidelines online. You have full control. Can collaborate with internal teams easier. You know your brand the best.


2. Expensive to update & maintain

Your brand is constantly changing, evolving, getting bigger. So naturally, your brand guidelines will have to do the same. But, you still have that PDF produced by your agency.

You will have to go back, get them to change and update them and, you guessed it, pay for the pleasure. This is a never ending process and you might end up doing this forever.

Solution: If you have created them online, you can update them online. Simple changes take seconds. Don’t need to know how to design or how to code.


3. Shareability - Where the hell are our guidelines?!

  • First of all, they get compressed so they can be shared - losing quality.
  • They get lost in emails, never to be found again.
  • The link to the share drive is in a slack channel...somewhere.
  • You may even need to download it to view. Not the best experience.

Solution: Have a single, central location for your guidelines. Have a custom URL people will remember. Invite everyone that needs access.


4. Your guidelines are disconnected with the actual assets

  • You have guidelines on how to use the logo but...where is the logo?
  • If a logo or font changes, you need to update the guidelines and then send everyone the new assets. No thanks.
  • Keeping track of the right versions and who has access is impossible.

Solution: Embed the right assets into your digital guidelines. No need for ZIP files. The link is updated for everyone so the right assets are used every-time.


5. Which guideline PDF is the latest?

  • BrandGuidelines.pdf(2020), BrandGuidelines.pdf(2020.5), BrandGuidelines.pdf(2021), BrandGuidelines.pdf(v1) - look familiar?
  • Trying to keep track of what PDF is the right one is a hassle.
  • Making a small change means distributing another PDF to everyone and who knows if they see the new version or if they are using the right PDF?

Solution: Have a single, central location for your guidelines. Always up to date. No need to play guideline roulette


6. The issue of search-ability

  • You can search a PDF, sure.
  • But finding a particular version of an asset can take time. Typing the word ‘Font’ is going to give you a lot of results.

Solution: A digital guideline solution with a comprehensive search function.


7. Access control

  • You have no way of knowing who has access to your guideline PDFs.

Solution: Digital brand guidelines with access and permission control. See who has access to what. Add new people and remove access whenever you want.


Since you have read this far, we hope you can agree with us that PDFs can PDF-off when it comes to brand guidelines. There are just better options out there that can solve all the above issues.

Speaking of options, we have a digital brand guidelines template you can start using right now if you want to begin your digital transition.

Get the brand guideline template →