Creating a brand style guide in 3 easy steps

What do you think of when you see these logos?

Well known brand logos

Coffee, burgers, computers and sports right? These logos are recognisable and have stood the test of time. But what you don’t see is multiple variations of them and there’s one reason for that, they spend a lot of money ensuring their brand’s consistent across the board.

No matter how large or small your business you can’t deny that how you look to your customers or prospects, needs to be consistent. If your brand deviates, it weakens your company image and maybe the recognition and authority you’ve built up. What can you do to over come this? Set-up a brand style guide.

Sound daunting? Wouldn’t know where to start? Below is my guide to setting up the basics and I can guarantee you’ll feel the benefits.

Your Logo

You’ve created your logo and you’re super proud of it and understandably so, make sure it’s always clear and isn’t cluttered by anything that’s surrounding it. Set a minimum size that the logo should be displayed to ensure that it’ll never be too small that it can’t be read. At the same time define how much white or empty space should surround it to ensure that it doesn’t get lost amongst any surrounding content.

Logo design with white space

What colours are your logo made up of? Will these stand out on both light and dark backgrounds? If not, create alternative versions of your logo for both types of background or place a white box or shape behind it to ensure it stands out on darker colours.

Colours

Your brand colours should be clearly defined and made available to anyone who’s producing design work for your company. This could include internal or external designers, or anybody producing documents that feature the company’s brand. Document the CMYK make-up and Pantone colour references for print as well as RGB and Hex codes for web/online use.

It’s worth noting that not all colours transfer perfectly between digital and print, certain colours become muted and others may look like a different colour (geeky reason below), so it’s worth looking into how they represent on both, and make allowances if they differ.

Geeky reason why RGB and CMYK colours can differ

If you combine all the colours from the RGB colour mode (red, green and blue) in there three maximum amounts, you end up with the colour white because the RGB Spectrum is Addictive. CMYK colour mode (cyan, magenta, yellow and key or black) however is Subtractive and therefore works in a totally adverse manor, the more colour you add of each, the darker the resulting colour becomes.

Additive and Subtractive Colours

As RGB and CMYK work in total opposites there are going to be a lot of hues that vary dramatically between the two colour spaces.

Fonts

Every brand should have a set of consistent fonts which accompany and support its logo. These font sets will then be used in all of your marketing material, both in print and online where possible.

Font examples for brand development

If you want to expand this further, you can specify how you want these fonts to be used to dictate the hierarchy or flow of content within your documentation. This can be as simple as saying you should use ‘this font’ for all headings or in a more detailed way by referencing specific font sizes and colours for headings, captions and listed information.

These three elements are a great starting point for any business that feels that their brand isn’t as strong as it could be. A brand style guide is a living document, nurture it and allow it to grow as your business does.

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