Whether it is a 100-page bible, or four-page handout, brand guidelines set down the “rules” for your brand. This includes logos, colors, typography and the general voice of your brand.
“A brand guideline explains whatever you as a brand want your look to be,” explained Stephen Llorens, Chatterkick graphic designer. “It is a reference guide for other companies and organizations that use your image. It may change every year, or every 10 years.”
Stephen has put together dozens upon dozens of brand guidelines during the decade he’s been a graphic designer. He shared some of the keys to what a great brand guideline should include.
- “Your logo should be clear at 100 percent. That means, whether it is 1-inch by 1-inch, on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper or a 24-foot billboard, it should be clear and not pixelated.”
- “State if your logo should only be re-produced in black and white or which colors are allowed. Your brand guideline should also demonstrate what your logo looks like 100 percent of the time on white and black backgrounds.”
- “Give the minimum and maximum size requirements for your logo, especially for logos that include type. Many companies require a certain amount of white space surround their logo. They don’t want their logos bunched up next to another image.”
- Don’ts. “This is important. Include the things a company should NOT do with your logo. For example, don’t place our logo on top of things, like images, don’t stretch or skew the logo, don’t use older versions of the logo and don’t put our logo next to a competitor.”
“It depends on who you are, but misusing a company’s logo could lead to copyright and trademark infringements, which can lead to a lawsuit.”
- “Always give PMS, or Pantone Matching System, colors for printed materials. These codes can be exactly matched by printers and go across the board for print.”
- “This means Red, Green, Blue. This type of color saturation is a little trickier because it is not constant and the look changes depending on your computer screen. While you can provide a RGB color, it shouldn’t be the only color code you provide.”
- “Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. This is also called four-color. Colors are made up of a build of these four colors by percentage. This allows for printing when the colors are mixed, like in a poster, and PMS or spot colors can’t be used. But you can use PMS, spot, metallics, varnishes and special processes as unspoken fifth colors.”
- Hex Code. “These are the color codes used for re-producing an image online. They use PMS, RGB and CMYK and build a six-digit code that is used for HTML. There are companies out there, like MailChimp, that only offer Hex Codes in their brand guidelines.”
“If you give your colors in all of these types, everything will be close and look like it is in place.”
- “You may use different types for headings body type. Make sure to define what typeface can be used where.”
- “Here you denote if the typeface you chose should be bold, condensed or light.”
- Print or Online. “Many companies will use a sans-serif type online for readability, but a serif type in print. A sans-serif font does not have any extending features and includes Arial and Helvetica. An example of serif font is Times New Roman.”
“Here’s a pro tip, don’t use more than three typefaces. It just gets messy when more than three typefaces are used.”
Tell me, how does this make you feel?
“Your logo, colors, typeface, and any other element you decide to incorporate into your brand guidelines, should all work together to convey a feeling about your brand. There a psychological aspect to how images and colors make us feel. For example, many food sites will use red and yellow in their logo and colors. Boutiques favor pastels in their marketing, while companies that cater to kids always have bright colors. Keep this mind, along with any textures and patterns, when you’re laying out your brand guidelines.”
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