Every visual identity development project should have a set of accompanying brand guidelines but are they really very useful? They may make the designers flush with pride but are they just digital dust collectors?
With every visual identity project we undertake we create a set of brand guidelines. We expect them to be used by internal people as well as outside agencies, including manufacturers and designers. They must be practical, easy to use and allow for future organisational change. They need to be robust for the longterm and appropriate to that particular organisation.
What is usually included in a set of brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines often include the following: the marque and it’s variants, sizing and clear space. What to do and what not to do with the logo. Colour, primary and secondary colours. Typography, brand typeface, secondary and systems fonts. Visual assets such as photography, illustrations and icons. Language, tone of voice and lexicon. Print and digital applications such as, stationery, presentations and website principles and templates. Environmental applications such as building signage and office space.
Brand guardianship means nurturing and protecting the brand. Ice House Design frequently advocates implementing an internal brand manager. Someone whose role it is to make sure the new visual identity is guarded and cherished. Not only when a branding programme is first introduced but forever.
If brand guidelines are clear, simple and robust they will help manage the visual identity not just for now but well into the future. And, it’s usually super obvious when guidelines are not used properly. It’s well worth remembering, the biggest threat to a successful new brand identity is not external but from within the organisation. In summary, these days most people can see the value of a consistently applied visual identity and the rewards it brings. A manual to guide users in the application of the identity is a prudent and beneficial part of every identity project.
Read more about brand design.