A brand is the way a company presents itself to outsiders: consumers, board members, partners, customers. A brand is used to identify one organization from another. And it's not just the logo—although that plays a significant part—a brand identity takes into consideration tone of copy, content, visual elements like fonts and images, and even fundamentals like the company's mission statement. Without a clear brand identity, organizations can sink in the sea of competition.
And even if a company has a brand identity, if the ideas that make up that identity only stay with the C-suite or with those in leadership, it's not being put to good use. An organization's brand needs to be communicated to all team members. The best way to do that effectively is to develop a brand guideline.
Brand guidelines are a set of standards that create a company's brand. It can be as long or as short as necessary—as long as all the essentials are present so that, as Shelby Clarke puts it, "every single person in your company . . . understand[s] both what the brand is, as well as how to implement it in the work they do." It can be a physical document or it can live digitally on an organization's collective drive, so long as every single employee knows how to access the guidelines.