What is a Company Guidebook? (And Why Your Creative Biz Needs One)
Tell me the truth, love… do you ever feel like your brand elements are a #HotMess?
You’ve invested time and money into beautiful, impactful branding, but it’s scattered all over the place! Your logo + stock photos are on Dropbox, your headshots and copy files are in Google Drive, and your fonts and brand colors are in the Sticky Notes app on your desktop.
Don’t get me wrong — you can absolutely get shiz done this way. But, finding everything you need to design a graphic can be a total nightmare. Scrambling to find your bio and headshot for each new partnership is a total time suck. And when it comes to onboarding a new team member (like that rockstar VA you’ve had your eye on for months), you waste DAYS just showing them where everything is!
The thing is, that #HotMess is costing you so much time. And in the biz world, time = money, honey!
The easy-as-pie, time-saving, totally business-changing solution? You need a Company Guidebook, babe! It’s going to change the way you and your teamwork FOREVER, so you can create better content, faster.
What exactly is a Company Guidebook?
A Company Guidebook is like a hub for your business, keeping all of your branding and marketing info in one place.
Whether you’re a biz pro or just starting out, every online biz owner needs a Company Guidebook if you want to stay organized (no matter what opportunities the universe sends your way) and outsource parts of your business with ease.
As your business grows, you can add new team members or contractors to your Company Guidebook so they can get up to speed quickly on where everything is and how you like things done.
Trust me on this one, friend — my Company Guidebook is a lifesaver. It keeps everything in one place, so my team can get through their daily tasks without having to check-in until it’s done, giving me more time to run my design agency + shop and focus on the things that bring me joy.
(It’s also the very first thing I create when working with a new 1:1 client. It makes life so much easier for them, for me, and for the rest of their team — even long after our project has wrapped up!)
What should go in my Company Guidebook?
Now that I’ve convinced you on the time-saving, biz-changing magic of having a Company Guidebook, you’re probably wondering where the heck to start creating your own! Don’t worry, babe — I gotchu.
Your Company Guidebook should include everything that you and your team need to reference on a regular basis to get shiz done. Think visual brand elements, swipe copy, templates, and processes.
Here are my go-to sections for any Company Guidebook:
This section is for the most important information about your company that you or your team need to grab on the regular.
Think of the information you need to pull together things like podcast pitches, new contracts, introductions in Facebook groups, or info you need before signing a new dream client. That might include your:
- Mailing address
- Website links (including links to pages you reference often)
- Blog link
- Media kit
- Links to freebies
- Scheduling info (i.e. links to your booking systems)
- Any tools that you’re using regularly in your biz
- Affiliate information (both for your business and your affiliate links for other brands)
This is also a great place to include information on your ‘Company Heart’, a term that I learned from my friend and coach Heather Crabtree. This section should house things like your business’ mission, vision and core values, as well as your ideal client persona (and any relevant resources, like surveys).
If you’ve gone through my Free Canva Resource, you already know that having your brand kit set up in your Canva Pro* account makes creating graphics sooooooo much easier. But, sometimes you need that brand information outside of Canva too, like when making changes to your website. What then?
Having your brand info in your Company Guidebook makes it super easy to make your visual identity look on-brand and 100% profesh, each and every time. Make sure to include info like:
- Your brand board, or your brand guidelines if you hired a designer to create them for you
- Your brand colors as a picture (because visuals!), but also typed out so you can easily copy + paste your hex codes
- Your brand fonts including download files so your team can use them too. Remember to differentiate between your headline fonts, subheadline fonts, body font and your script font — if you have one.
- Your brand photos + headshots
- Your fave stock photo references (Some of my personal favs are Styled Stock Society*, Moyo Studio*, Haute Stock*, and Social Squares!)
- Links to your Canva templates — ones you’ve purchased from The Canva Template Shop (or other equally amazing shops 😉) or ones you’ve created for yourself
Team Roles + Contact Info
As your biz grows, so does your team — yay!
To avoid any confusion, make sure that you keep a record of each team member’s most important info.
Having each team member’s info in your Company Guidebook not only helps you keep on top of things, it also helps your team members work more efficiently with each other.
Info to consider including:
- Contact info (email, phone, Voxer ID, office hours, how they like to be contacted)
- Mailing Address
- Favorite things (perfect for birthdays and special occasions!)
- Important people in their life
- Fun facts
Feel free to have fun with this section and edit it down to include the right info for you and your team. We love to include links to wish lists and Enneagram info 😉 .
Go-To Team Resources
Your team resources section is the go-to hub for literally anything you or your team might need to get shiz done. You can record important dates (like vacations or standing team meetings) and links to any courses of software that’s important for your biz.
Top tip: Whenever you do something NEW in your biz, get into the habit of recording yourself doing it. That way, you can add a mini tutorial to your Company Guidebook, which your team can refer to to get up to speed on a task quickly. We’re allllll about that efficiency.
While your editorial calendar — things like your blog processes or your social media posting schedule — might live elsewhere, it’s important to have some important marketing info in your Company Guidebook. Think things like links to your social pages, a list of your top blog posts, and even login information for your social scheduling tools.
Your Company Guidebook isn’t just a place to host all your VISUAL brand elements. Ohhhhh no. Any good Company Guidebook also includes COPY!
You probably use the same words to talk about your biz on the daily, and having easy access to those words (for you + your team) is super important for keeping things clear + consistent. That way, you can draft up an email, write an Instagram caption, or send over a pitch in no time flat.
I recently invited my own copywriter, Megan Taylor, to deliver a mini-training on the 5 copy elements that should live in your Company Guidebook. You can watch the full recording of the Facebook Live here! Here’s what she recommends:
- Your elevator pitch: A really brief description of what you do, who you do it for, and why it matters. This can be a tricky one, but you can grab Megan’s free elevator pitch templates here.
- Your bio: Keep it to 2-3 paragraphs tops. Be sure to tell your story, but only mention the things that are relevant to your business and your mission.
- Your testimonials: This is the best way to make sure that you’re reflecting your ideal clients’ or customers’ words back at them when writing copy.
- Your canned responses: Make note of all the copy you seem to be using over and over again — whether it’s customer support emails, responses to client enquiries, or social media comments.
- Your copy swipe dump: Stumble on a landing page that makes you say, “WOW, she totally gets me?” Or a Facebook ad that grabs you from that very first line? Jot it down in your Company Guidebook — you’ll be glad you did!
Personally, I’m always going back to my bio and one-sentence elevator pitch! And I’m so glad that I have it in my Company Guidebook, so I don’t have to go digging for it in the depths of my Google Drive every time someone wants me to introduce myself.
How to create your own Company Guidebook
The beautiful thing is, you don’t need to dedicate an entire week to set up your Company Guidebook, and you don’t need any fancy-schmancy software either! Truth is, you can create your own Company Guidebook in as little as 60 minutes. Seriously.
Spend one hour to reclaim hundreds of hours in the lifetime of your biz? Sounds like a pretty darn good tradeoff to me, right love?!
I recommend writing everything down on paper first. Think of all the things you’ve had to dig out of your Google Drive, Dropbox, or desktop folders this week. Or, think about everything your VA asked you for this week. These are the things that belong in your Company Guidebook!
Then, build it out. Personally, I love using software like Trello or Asana for my company guidebook, because I like seeing things laid out visually in columns. Some people like to have everything packaged up in a PDF, but I think that makes things WAY harder than it needs to be!
Don’t want to create everything from scratch? I mean, why would you! Instead, you can copy my locked-and-loaded Trello Company Guidebook. It’s the starting point for my own Company Guidebook and every guidebook I create for my 1:1 clients — and you get to download it immediately. Hellooooo no more scrambling around looking for brand elements!
Inside you’ll find all the Canva templates you need to customize your guidebook, plus a video showing you how to use your Guidebook to simplify your processes and get shiz done faster.
I’m even throwing in a BONUS Trello Content Creation Reference Board with checklists that are easy to duplicate or modify, so you can keep all your processes + systems in one place.
Creating beautiful, on-brand, professional graphics and other content for your business just got SO much easier. 🥂 Cheers to THAT!
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments how YOU’RE using your new Company Guidebook to streamline your biz. I binge-read streamline success stories like most people binge-watch Netflix 😉.
*These are affiliate links to products and small businesses we love, use and support.