A Roadmap to Brand Guides

A Road Map to Brand Guides

Style guide, brand book, brand guidelines and brand standards—these are all essentially the same thing. A resource for designers, sales and marketing teams, and companies alike, they play a pivotal role in defining, maintaining and growing a brand.

What is the mission of a brand guide?

It’s like DNA or a fingerprint and makes your brand unique. The goal of a brand guide is to give your brand flexibility and consistency. It will keep you “reigned in” and coherent, while still allowing for careful exploration with a set of rules. One of the most fundamental purposes of the guide is to provide clear instruction on use of the brand’s logo(s), colors and typography. It can also give direction on use of patterns, icons, photography and other imagery.

Is your logo your brand?

Many business owners equate their “logo” with their “brand”, however that is a misconception.  The logo is an identifying visual mark representing the company but is only a portion of the overall brand. A well thought out brand evokes emotion about a product, service or company; ensures trust and ultimately influences the consumer to act on an impulse (make a purchase, hire a company, etc.). Your brand is, at its most basic, a promise to your customers. It distinguishes you from your competitors, gives you a voice and evokes an emotional response. A good brand is derived from clear communication and a positive experience from your audience.

One component of a good brand guide protects your logo mark from getting lost by making rules about clear space around it.
Think of a world where the Target bullseye is purple: You’d be very confused. What if McDonald’s Golden Arches were even just a pale yellow? Brand style guides help to maintain a consistent look so that consumers and employees understand the brands. These guides help create uniformity and take a business from being just a company, to becoming a brand.
Kendra Gaines
Web Design Depot

Does brand matter?

You’d better believe it does! Pop in to any drug store, stroll down the toothpaste aisle and pick up a box of your favorite teeth-whitening goo. You barely had to read the box to know which one you wanted, right? That’s powerful branding! Font, color and message tone on the box led you right to your brand of choice. The choice was easy and made you feel comfort and trust that inside that box was a great while set of pearly whites. To be effective, your marketing strategy requires a brand that is recognizable and consistently presented. This includes colors, typography (fonts), voice/tone of your messaging, and the general look and feel of your website, social media, and any printed materials. Without this consistency, your marketing strategy may just fall flat.

What’s in the brand guide?

Brand guides come in many sizes, depending on the size and breadth of the company among many other factors. Your brand should infiltrate every bit of the company, down to the way the phone is answered and what the email signatures look like. A good set of guidelines should include the following:

• Brand Essence: explain your core messaging (your elevator speech) and goals.

• Logo/Word Mark/Tagline: the visual mark(s)

• Alternate logos: secondary versions of the logo for different applications and uses

• Positioning, Size and Clear Space around the logo artwork

• Color Palette: CMYK, Pantone, RGB and web values for a specific set of colors to be used

• Typography (what fonts to use for visual consistency): fonts used in the logo, for print media and web use, as well as for signage and other design

• Icons & Patterns

• Photography styles

• Trademarks & Intellectual Property

• Voice & Style for: social media, advertising, web elements

• Application Examples (include the wrong way to present your brand)

• Garment decoration: options for embroidery and screen printing size, placement and design