Imagine that you’ve created a product or service and built your company around it. There’s a logo that represents your company and its brand. You care about how your company is represented in the media space and you want to make certain that every instance of the logo represents your business well. So how do you go about this?
You use brand guidelines.
What are brand guidelines? They’re hard and fast rules that determine a clear and consistent use of visual elements that will give your brand a cohesive voice. These can be anywhere from a few pages to a few hundred. In short, it’s how your brand appears to the public across visual platforms, and establishes the voice and personality of a company.
Why are brand guidelines needed?
- To create uniformity – brand standards ensure that your brand appears the same no matter where it’s seen.
- To ease collaboration – brand standards give everyone a clear picture of how the brand is represented.
- To inspire confidence – brand standards tell the world a brand’s representation has been carefully considered.
Because I’m a web developer with a background and foundation in design, I get a little grouchier than most when I receive incomplete instructions as to how a brand is represented. Too often I’ve seen brand guidelines with well-thought-out examples of how a logo looks on company swag that hundreds of people might see – a coffee mug, for example – but little to nothing about the application of a logo and/or omission of HEX colors on a website that thousands of people will view.
Brand guidelines take out the guesswork – such as which color goes where, which font is used in a headline as opposed to a paragraph, and how much white space to allow around the logo.
What should be included in your brand standards?
- Approved color and black and white version(s) of a logo and how it functions in a consistent fashion in various print and web scenarios. How much space should be represented around the logo in all instances? Guides should also include versions of a logo that appear as social media avatars. (More often than not, this is a square version of all or some of the logo mark.)
- How a black-and-white version of the logo appears (in a newspaper) versus a color version (in a magazine), along with how a logo appears in reverse on a dark background.
- Approved brand color palette: these include specifying Pantone and CMYK for printing and RGB values and HEX colors for web. Spell out how these colors interact with the logo. Also, note which colors function as primary use colors and which ones function as secondary use colors.
- All approved fonts, serif and sans-serif, and use cases of each. Examples: Which fonts are included for print materials? Which fonts are included on the web and in what capacity? i.e. Which fonts are used for H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, blockquote, and paragraph text?
- What do approved call-to-action buttons on a website look like?
- How is the brand represented in environmental design?
What are some real-world implications if these brand “rules” are broken? Imagine if an orange University of Tennessee logo was placed on a maroon background, the primary color of their biggest rival? Or if the wrong shade, such as the University of Texas shade of orange, was used on a Tennessee branded item.
How does Parthenon create brand standards?
Here at Parthenon, we have a five-page guide of brand standards that cover B2B communications and our brand image across print and web properties. These guidelines specify the proper use of our logo, which fonts and colors to use in print and web media, and which colors – primary and secondary – are approved for representation. These guidelines ensure that our entire team – writers, editors, web developers, strategists and a graphic designer – are following the same guidelines when it comes to representing Parthenon to the world.
Find out more about how Parthenon can improve your branding efforts by checking out our portfolio.