Brand guidelines provide orientation – internally and externally
In addition to the differentiation of the brand, an essential factor of a successful brand design is the recognizability. It is therefore necessary that brand design elements such as word marks, colors, fonts, icons and images are used consistently, regardless of the contractor. The brand guidelines – also called the brand design manual or style guide – therefore explain and document the design rules for the respective scenarios. These guidelines must be adhered to in any form of communication, so that the sender – the brand – always remains clearly recognizable.
- The Corporate Design Manual is aimed at both employees and partners
- it must be prepared so that outsiders can easily understand the requirements
- it covers all areas of application as completely as possible
- The brand design can be systematically developed, supplemented and differentiated using this tool
Dynamic branding: flexibility is key
Recognizability and commitment do not mean that brand designs are rigid structures carved in stone. Dynamic branding is essential in the digital age: brands have to live and be lived in order to remain relevant, which means that branding is able to react to a wide range of requirements and contexts without compromising the corporate identity.
Essential content of a brand design manual
The structure and scope of style guides naturally vary because, among other things, depend on the level of detail of the respective brand design. However, certain content should be included in each brand manual so that it serves its purpose.
Chapter 1: Brand strategy and tone of voice
A complete style guide includes an explanation of the brand strategy on which the brand design is based. On the one hand, this information helps to understand the brand and internalize its goals, on the other hand, it makes the concept of brand design understandable. Basically, this chapter includes:
- Brand story
- Brand values
- Purpose or golden circle
- Mission statement and vision
- Tonality: How does the brand speak to whom?
Chapter 2: The logo and how to use it
The logo or word mark is a central component of the brand design. In this chapter, the style guide ensures that it is used as intended. This includes
- Size: minimum size, proportions and proportions
- Spacing: Distances to side edges to define white spaces
- Variants: Use on different substrates, e.g. inverted, in color, black and white and definition of when and which application is given
- Dont’s: Examples of applications or versions that are not permitted, such as Distortions, color changes or combinations, backgrounds, etc.
Chapter 3: Colors
Colors and color combinations contribute a lot to brand recognition, see “Coca Cola Red” or Telekom Magenta. For correct reproduction, it is therefore important to provide color samples as well as the respective information for use in printing and online, in addition to the color system of main and secondary colors.
Chapter 4: Typography
Typography also conveys the personality of a brand and should be chosen or designed accordingly. The details are decisive for the character of the typeface. More expressive fonts are often used for the word mark or headlines than for continuous texts, where easy readability is even more important. The style guide should show:
- Name of the font or font family
- Weights and font sizes used for headlines,
- Sublines, continuous texts, subtitles or captions, etc.
- Text alignment (right, left, center)
Chapter 5: Imagery style
Images make a significant contribution to conveying feelings and evoking them. Here too, a suitable style must be created and persisted in order for this to succeed. The style guide therefore includes a concrete description with examples of how image material must be in order to be used in the brand presence. This includes:
- Picture sections and perspectives
- Formats and proportions
- Interplay of images, text and graphics in the layout
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Chapter 6: Graphic elements and icons
Recurring, characteristic graphic elements such as Illustrations or icon sets are also documented in the style guide and their meaning and use are defined. For icon systems developed for the brand it is important to explain how the set can be expanded with additional icons if necessary. Here it is helpful to show how the icons are structured, e.g. which line widths, proportions, angles and color clusters should be used.
Chapter 7: Exemplary applications
Exemplary applications of brand design give users quick guidance on what is permissible and what is not. In addition, only when you go through as many design scenarios as possible you notice whether all relevant application areas have been taken into account or whether there are still brand-specific solutions to be developed at one point or another.
First things first: Brand Guideline or Corporate Identity?
As branding agency we create brand foundations. For us, this means that creating a basic style guide as an outcome is part of developing a brand design – so that all channels can be played with measures that contribute to the brand as desired.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines, also known as brand manuals, comprise the essential components of the brand identity as well as communicative and design rules. Brand guidelines define how the brand should be represented to the outside world.
How to develop a Brand Guide?
A Brand Guide represents the summary of the strategic and visual brand identity, as well as a set of rules for dealing with them. The brand strategy and brand design therefore provide the foundation. The Brand Guide should include standards on sizes, proportions, spacing, white spaces, colors, as well as examples of applications that are not acceptable.
Why is a Brand Guide important?
A brand guide provides orientation for internal employees and external trades and helps brands to achieve consistency and thus create recognition value. The design rules should therefore be binding.
What elements does a brand guide contain?
The 7 elements of a brand guide are
- Brand identity
- Image style
- Sample applications
How would you like to shape your brand
Dr. Birgit Joest
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