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How to make a professional brand guideline?

Build a professional and thorough brand guideline.

 

  1. Start your brand guide with a great story

Every brand that people relate more with brands that tell a great story. Stories could be anything from the organization’s journey to what they most care about. Their vision, mission, and core values they all contribute to a good story.

Most brands draw inspiration from brand archetypes and mix their personality to it. Stories humanize your business and takes a place in people’s heart. Giving a clear idea and expectation of what you are and what to expect from your business.

ALWAYS start with a brand story that communicates everything about you to the world.

 

  1. Design a logo with proper usage guidelines.

Your logo is what everybody will think of when thinking about your brand. Making it inevitable to verify that your design shows your brand in the right light. When designing something of that much importance. Make sure to include style guidelines for the logo and acceptable variations of it.

To make a logo recognizable, it needs to be consistent across all mediums.

 

SO HOW DO YOU DO IT?

You have finalized your logo design, now let’s move on to making proper logo usage guidelines. Because that’s what will make your brand memorable compared to a random logo design.

 

  • Include spacing specifications around logos, like Snapchat, Medium, Facebook, and Spotify:

This gives the logo enough breathing space for greatest visual impact. Usually it will be half the width of the logo itself.

 

  • Include all acceptable color variations usable on the logo.

This makes it hard for it to go wrong.
 
If your logo is to presented in many varieties you can consider including a dos and don’ts guide for your logo.

The brand guide of Medium specifies acceptable primary and secondary colors. Also examples of incorrect color usage.

State the minimum size or resolution that the logo needs to maintain to be legible. So that it does not appear smaller to the point where it is incomprehensible or unnoticeable.

You can even take it a step further. And dummy proof the logo by including examples of unacceptable logo versions.

This ensures your branding consistency. Regardless of whether the work is being done by different individuals or agencies.

 

  1. Define a color palette for the brand.

Defining a color palette has shifted from one or two colors to multi-color schemes.

Have one primary color and some secondary shades.

Primary colors will be the brand’s core colors & secondary shades for brand communications.

Or you can also go mention specific color combinations you want your designers to stick with:

When defining color schemes make sure to include hex codes, RGB values and CMYK color codes. To make it easy and clear for designers.

If the brand relies more on colors to express functions and components.

You can develop more comprehensive color systems. So that designers don’t have to fiddle around with their color picker.

You can even add a contrast guide for best readability optimization.

Or even list out design concepts that should not be applied on graphics designed for specific purposes like social media or websites:

When writing brand guidelines be thorough with relevant specifics and give on-trend examples.

 

  1. Brand typography

Usually under noticed and never appreciated.

A good typeface can either elevate or plummet your brand’s visual value and appeal.

When done right a good typeface will blend into the brand. Do it wrong and it will stick out like a sore thumb, killing the brand’s perceived visual value right then and there. A good brand guide will list out the various typographies and the purpose of it – where it applies (in print or web).

Sites like Twitter and Snapchat have a single font design, and use it almost everywhere.

brand style guide

You can elaborate on single font designs as well. With specific font styles and sizes, text colors, and styles for lists and paragraphs:

brand style guide

(design hierarchies)

A good example for having multiple fonts for different use cases is iHeartmedia.

Using almost five different typefaces for different products:

brand style guide

If you are going for a completely new font, designed for you. Make sure to include fallback fonts for external use:
brand style guide

If all this sounds way too complicated. Here’s a quick run through of must include things on your brand typography guideline:

  • Specify your font
  • Design hierarchy of font sizes (for headers, sub headers and long paragraphs)
  • Font weights (light, bold, heavy etc.)

brand style guide

 

  1. Have a consistent brand voice.

Visual branding is one. But if there’s something that will help you secure a place in people’s heart that will be having a unique brand voice. Again the voice you choose should be in alignment with your brand story, values and target market.

The words you use, the tone of delivery etc… Figure it out and include it in your brand style guide. To make sure your voice stays unique and consistent across channels. There are a bunch of ways to do this. Let’s take a look at few examples from,

Shopify:

brand style guide

Shopify lists out a whole array of brand voice dos and don’ts for their copywriting.

brand style guide

This is one approach. Another approach towards the same is in Atlassian’s writing style guide.
 
Outlining their writing style in a few simple words, because sometimes that’s all you need.
 
This helps you maintain a consistent voice across both marketing and social media. Including customer response and query management.

 

  1. Data visualization guidelines.

Everything from your logo to the graphics & fonts you use in your websites and business cards. All of these minor elements contribute towards the perceived value of your brand. While preparing a brand style guide include some imagery guidelines for illustrations, graphics, types of photos, charts, infographics etc…

Trello is a brand that relies heavily on illustrations. Requiring them to have a fixed style guide to make sure the illustrations look unique. Despite not having logo present within the illustration itself. They outline everything that contributes to the illustration–with guidelines on concept, composition, shadows, and more… 

And most important, tons of examples.

brand style guide

Shopify does the same. Specifying their stylistic choices and use cases like background color, level of detail, scale, and blending modes…

brand style guide

When it comes to imagery style guide it includes a brand’s photographic style as well. Here you can specify the level of complexity, compositions, color schemes, styles, and technical specs that makes the photographs fit for your brand…

 

Berkeley’s brand guidelines describe their photographic style as light, airy, and natural.

Featuring images that fit into one of three categories: topical, cultural, or historical.

brand style guide

They even take it a step further by giving more clear instructions to photographers too.

 

“We use natural light whenever possible. Light is also used as an active element in our photography, sometimes to the point of slight overexposure. To avoid unnatural angles, never rotate the camera to an angle other than 90 degrees.”

 

  •  Whatever you work with, provide lots of examples and thorough descriptions.

brand style guide

  • Specify when and where to use infographics and data visualizations.
  • Include style preferences for each type of imagery.

 

Here’s yet another example from Shopify on their approach towards data visualization:

brand style guide

Followed by definitive rules on the labeling and styling of those visualizations:

brand style guide

Guidelines such as these are easy to overlook, but when used properly. It will foster a cohesive brand presence.

Especially for more complex media like infographics and data visualizations.

 

Conclusion                                                        

Send a uniform message wherever your business is present. Take inspiration from top brands and make your own brand style guide. Allow everyone representing your brand to produce collateral quickly, efficiently, and with confidence.

Build one with these 6 simple steps:

  1. Start your brand guide with a great story
  2. Design a logo with proper usage guidelines
  3. Define a colour palette for the brand.
  4. Brand typography
  5. Have a consistent brand voice
  6. Data visualization guidelines. Good luck!

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