by | Aug 5, 2021

While athletes compete for trophies and medals, companies compete for market attention and employee engagement. Brand guidelines help the brand remain true to itself, whether the communication is inside or outside the company.

Some of our clients use the same brand guidelines with their internal audience as they do externally. But many develop a slightly different set of brand standards for their internal brand and employee communications. The reason for this is that the external brand is seen in the marketplace in the context of lots of other brands. Internal brands are seen only inside the company, without being juxtaposed against other brands. Without giving the internal brand more design options, the internal communications can all blend together and have a hard time getting employees’ attention.

Here are our tips for developing gold medal worthy internal brand guidelines:


We often give internal brands more visual variety by adding a secondary or tertiary color palette. These colors can be complimentary to the primary ones – meaning opposite on the color wheel, or they can be the same hue but have different brightness or saturation.


You might want to add another font family to the internal brand guidelines. We usually look for one that’s versatile and has different weights like bold, regular, light, etc.  A good practice is to choose a more unique font for the headlines but stick to a very readable, simple font for the copy.


Occasionally we’ve added a background pattern or graphic accent to the brand standards that helps add interest to some more straightforward internal communications. Symbolically, it might represent the diversity of individual employees all aligned to move the company forward, or it could just be a pleasing texture to use behind type.


You might pick a specific photo style to help expand the visual vocabulary of the internal brand. For one client, we added photos of isolated objects on white to their internal brand guidelines, which made it easy to include a lot of visual variety using stock photography on topics ranging from open enrollment to the 401K to national pizza day.

But we almost always recommend showing candid shots of employees in their work environments. That means shooting original photography of actual employees, not stock photos of models that are supposed to represent the real people of the company. Employees love seeing their colleagues around the company and the globe, plus it lets you show the diversity of the company and make celebrities of the people who make up the company.

Of course, once you have those internal brand guidelines, it’s important to equip all the communicators in the company with the ability to follow them. For ideas on how to help with that, you might like this Best Practices one pager on aligning field communications. For insight on common mistakes in writing for internal communications, try this Best Practices one pager. For information on brand guidelines in general, check out this post.

Interested in developing your internal brand? Tribe can help.

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