Brand guideline documents provide rules to control the correct usage of type, colours, logos, photography and graphic elements for all your corporate marketing material.
Often loathed by those who have to implement them but highly endorsed by the design team you paid to create your brand in the first place.
When followed correctly, brand guidelines will:
Ensure you appear professional in the marketplace
Assist you to maintain control of the design
Provide a reference in case elements become lost in execution (e.g. by your in-house team)
Avoid cheapening the design you spent time and money to develop
Convey a well-executed cohesive look to your audience
Below are a few examples taken from Skype's branding guidelines. The language and style are fantastic and make clear the direction to be taken, should anyone mis-use their precious brand. http://issuu.com/bondo/docs/skype_brand_book_-_look)
We've also highlighted a few important elements that should be included in your own Branding Guidelines.
Start by stating what is your official logo. Especially if you have just rebranded. This will explain clearly your transition to your new hot brand.
State the Correct Use of your logo
Professional designers know not to mess around with your logo, but the chances are your receptionist or intern doesn't! Your employee may think they’ve produced something fantastic, when in truth your brand is now seriously compromised. Illustrating examples of the correct usage of your logo can also make clear what not to do with this precious asset.
Equally as important as ensuring proper use of your logo, is defining the correct typefaces for print and for web. So often marketing documents adopt a multitude of sins, commonly around the mis-use fonts. Detailling the correct type, size, line spacing and weights will ensure consistency in presenting a professional image.
Estimating the need for white space can be challenging for a non-designer. A common mistake is to cram the space with content. By providing examples you can illustrate the benefits of using white space to create the look you are after.
White space is great . . . Colour is pretty special too! Specifying the CMYK values (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) for your special Pantone swatches is essential. Also, since the web consists of HEX (Hexadecimal) and RGB (Red, Green and Blue) interpretations, creating these versions for your gorgeous colour palette is definitely advisable as part of your branding arsenal.
If the budget permits, hiring a professional to take some fantastic images is well worth the investment. Those images, produced specifically for your company, can then be used in all your marketing material. Instruct your team to use only this selection. It can make a huge difference in terms of uniqueness and professionalism. Stock photography has its place, but are easily recognised as what they are ‘standard, stock images’. There is also a good chance that stock photos your team may use, could be completely at odds with the brand image you are trying to promote.
IIlustrations and Icons
Defining when and where to use illustrations and icons is another great way to promote brand consistency. It may be preferable for these elements to be used sparingly? If this is the case, then make it absolutely clear.
Putting it all together
As a final point, giving an actual marketing example of how you intend your brand be conveyed, provides a great reference point for any team working on your material.
Having created your Branding Style Guide (as outlined above) and communicated it to your team, you can relax knowing you’ve covered the bases to ensure you always look good in your marketplace!
About the author — George Bates
George is a passionate and award winning designer, but his life journey . . . to this point . . . has been varied to say the least! A retired breakdancer, at one time a door-to-door salesman (he sucked!), he even tried his hand at panel beating! Part time DJ . . . film junkie . . . keen hiker . . . his leisure time is equally busy!
Owner / Director Planet Visuals.