We’re looking this week at branding and in particular brand guidelines that you can hopefully benefit from.
Brand guidelines are a clear set of instructions that any designer or marketer can follow when producing marketing literature or designs for you. A manual for the efficient reproduction of your brand’s corporate image.
The guidelines shown here were completed for the Alacrity Global Ecosystem of which WCIC.tech are a part of. The complete document is not shown but solely the essential elements. Words are written in International English as it was, of course, an international document.
Brand guidelines make your product easier to work with and enable design companies and marketing agencies a guide to refer to. This allows them to easily recognise how to handle your literature.
Why Every Company Should Have Brand Guidelines
If you are a small start-up company, maybe have a graphic designer or feel you can control the look of the brand yourself then you should still have brand guidelines to follow. If the designer or the main contact is away for a few days and something needs producing then a clear set of instructions should be on hand to help with this. This is not just for print but your developers who are busy working on the user interface require hex codes from you for the effective colour reproduction.
You can’t expect your whole team to remember everything. When you get funding and increase your headcount, having clear instructions helps put all the parts together to work better and more efficiently. Another benefit is getting something that fits with the rest of your brand quickly.
A brand guidelines document containing colours, permitted logo variations, fonts and general layout examples. It is a simple thing to hand over to explain your direction.
And of course, if something important doesn’t get conveyed, you run the risk of losing control of your brand.
A good designer should be able to create brand guidelines for you in just a few days. For a tech start-up, there is no requirement to use a large agency adding in such subtle style guides that will rarely, if ever need implementing by you. Maybe recruit a freelancer for a day to complete an effective set of guides for you. Often you may need a relatively simple set of brand guidelines and therefore the designer should be able to reuse something they have already done and the time is quicker and easier.
Brand Guidelines Basic Elements
Assuming you’re a start-up technology company then your guidelines will not necessarily need to be complicated. Larger companies who indulge in heavy content marketing and social media, as well as video, digital and print, will have longer and more complex guides to suit the need.
To start with though let’s just focus on the basics.
The colours used should be clearly identified in several variations from CMYK to RGB and hex codes for use on the web (unless your developers prefer RGB). If there is a specific Pantone colour then that should be stated.
Don’t get hung up on Pantone colours. It’s easier to go down the quicker and cheaper route of accurately reproducing colours on a four colour lithographic or digital printing press. Find a colour that you can reproduce precisely everywhere, including on the office printer, instead of a specific Pantone.
Paul Bailey, Wesley Clover Design Manager
Not every colour can be reproduced identically between RGB (web) and CMYK (print) so it’s a good idea to either tweak your palette to ensure colours are as close as possible.
A great place to start if you need to create a colour palette is with Adobe Color CC (formally Kuler) here >
You don’t necessarily have to pick a common font but whatever you pick, ensure that everyone can have access to it. Purchasing a font will render licensing restrictions so should a designer require it then they may need to purchase that font too adding to your bill. Picking standard fonts but displaying them in a different but consistent way may be an easier way moving forward but whatever you decide you need to list these fonts showing examples and under which criteria they are used. The Alacrity font uses a stylised version of Myriad Pro which is on almost every machine as standard.
Specify sizes for headings and preferred body weights and for any particular styles or weights within the font family for different purposes for instance buttons and quotes.
Rendering those fonts on your website means you may need to use a Google Font or have access to a large number of fonts that can be easily synced between print and web through the likes of Typekit from Adobe which can be fiddly and has a price associated but gives you much greater flexibility.
You should state how much empty space needs to surround the logo so that no other element encroaches into its ‘breathing space’. Here we took the static S element from the logo which is always a visual reminder to the user on the clear space needed around the logo. In this example, the head of the running man is used around the absolute edges of the signature to show the area around in which no other element can enter.
Permitted Signature (logo) Variations
Several versions of your logo will be required for different purposes. The most commonly forgotten use of a logo and again the most difficult to reproduce is embroidery so ensure no elements are too small. This is current best-practise with mobile devices needing to show a logo in such a small location. Always have a single colour or simple colour version of your logo that doesn’t have complex shapes or gradients in it. If you require a more complicated logo then you may need to highlight screen printing methods of reproducing the logo instead. Even then (due to the mesh used in the process) some elements of the logo may not reproduce in its entirety.
On the Alacrity logo, we see that there are a few different versions highlighting a preferred version.
Improper Signature (logo) Use
Do not assume that a designer or marketer will treat your logo with the care and consideration that you will. So many times even internal employees stretch a logo to fit or change its colour solely to suit their Powerpoint needs. Clearly identify examples of how not to display your logo so as to deter any persons rogue graphic design or inappropriate do-it-yourself approach!
Tagline and Font Use Example
Some companies require a tagline to the logo. Show some examples of how you specifically would like things displayed. Important items such as a tag line have enabled us on this page to show what an advertisement would look like if it followed the brand guidelines for Alacrity. It also shows us what the specific font is used and how it should look once printed.
It is also important to show basic stationary items, especially when you go international. Knowing how to display simple things like business cards will help align your brand. When you do reach this size however then you will inevitably have a full design toolkit with templates for creating such things in an easy and convenient way.
Specific Commonly Used Items
As Alacrity teams eventually graduate into technology start-up companies, we created a set of icons which they could also use themselves although in subtly different ways. As icons are used frequently within this group of companies we felt it prudent to create this standard set and apply it to the brand guidelines for everyone’s benefit. We also highlighted three of the logos and how they should be used for Alacrity specifically but allow the icon use for each company to be used in their own way.
Thanks for reading and hope this has been of use to you. If you would like to download the complete PDF version of the Alacrity Brand Guidelines? Click here!