The Importance of a Branding Guide
Many businesses I come across don’t have a branding guide, for varying reasons. Their friend designed their logo, they didn’t pay for that as part of the package, they didn’t see value in it.
And, despite advocating the use of them to others, up until recently, I fell into that same category. I reasoned that I did all my own design, so I didn’t need a document to remind me.
So why the change?
A good branding guide forms the foundation of your brand. It helps you, as well as other services you work with, to keep consistent design and aesthetic. This helps your customers recognise, and feel comfortable with your brand.
Deciding what goes in your branding guide helps you to have clearly in mind what your brand is all about, and is a hand reference when deciding what to include in future branded material.
Sign-writers, printers, apparel manufacturers, web designers/developers and anyone else who needs to create something for your brand will thank you for having one. Even if you are all these people for yourself, your memory and consistency are not as good as you think they are. Trust me.
What should a branding guide include?
- Your primary logo. This is the foundation of your brand. Some guides include a minimum bleed (or clear space) that must be left around the logo. This is important if your logo is busy, or relies on a lot of negative space.
- A reverse logo. Your logo will eventually need to be on a dark coloured background as well as a light coloured background. You may not want the colours simply switched, especially if your whole logo is in colour so it’s important to think about how it will appear on both.
- An icon. With the rise of web and social media, many brands have a ‘mini logo’ or icon that fits into a square format naturally. This avoids profile pictures, avatars etc being a cropped version of a larger logo.
- Colours and colour codes. It is important to have codes for each form of colour. Hex code (web); RGB (screen); CMYK (print) and Pantone (can be used to match in any instance). If you are only going to choose one colour, make it a pantone. Any industry professional who needs to use your logo will be able to match to this. They may not be able / willing to convert the other types.
- Fonts / Typefaces. You may use a whole font family, or a specific typeface. Include the name of these as well as all the characters. This is very helpful if you ever need to create marketing material, or change wording in your logo.
- Patterns, Graphics and Inspiration. These are optional, however most designers include them as they help set the tone for the brand. They create a secondary colour palette and help you post social media and content with a specific “look”.
If you don’t yet have a branding guide, it’s never too late to start! Your business will thank you.