Ask GWA: Brand Standards Guide

Questions Image Credit: AllThingsDI was just put in charge of my dad’s marketing “department” in his company (I’m the sole member of this department by the way). Anyway, we are interested in creating a brand standards book or guide for our vendors to use so there is some consistency with our company brand.  I have never put one together before.  Do you have any suggestions about how to go about making one?  Thanks in advance for any support you can provide.

-Megan Smith-Gale, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Thank you for contacting you and congrats on the new job.  Brand standard guides used to be things only big, Fortune 500 corporations would create for their brand.  But now with the proliferation and accessibility of marketing tools today, small businesses are also expected to maintain a brand identity.  This is especially helpful for any vendors you employ, including graphic and web designers, product developers and other marketing and sales professionals, to better understand how to use your brand.

Before we start, let’s define what a brand identity standards guide is for those who don’t know.  A brand standards or style guide is a set of instructions that let others know how to use your brand identity, and, thus, create consistency with how your brand is viewed by others.  The guide will provide instructions on how to use your logo, colors, layouts, images and typography in a variety of media, such as package design, stationery, social media, website, email, banners etc.

A standards guide can be in any format, including a PDF file that can either be downloaded from a website or printed, or a dedicated brand standards page on your website.  You should choose a format that is easy to update, as your brand standards may change regularly.

Depending on the type of business you run and who your client base is, the size of your standards guide could vary from a couple of pages to dozens of pages.  All standards guides should at least have the following components:

  1. Introduction: Tell users the general purpose of the guide
  2. Organizational MIssion: What does your organization stand for and why you selected this brand identity.
  3. Logo: What you can and can’t do with it and what’s acceptable.  Show the logo in both color and black and white.  Should there be a clearance space around the logo?  What are the dimension restrictions?
  4. Color Palette: What are the official colors your company uses to represent its brand?  Show the actual color(s) in RGB, CMYK, and Patone.
  5. Typography: Show the entire alphabet, numbers and other special characters in the font(s) that your organization uses.
  6. Images: Show examples of photos that are acceptable and show specific styles.  Be specific about what images are not acceptable.
  7. Copy: What type of copy or text is acceptable to express your brand?

Again, this is a very basic explanation of a standards guide, and every company has a different approach to using one.  The new year is a great time to create a standards guide to start your organization off on the right foot!  For more information on creating a brand standards guide for your organization, contact us.  

Got a question for us? Send it to info(at)globalwireonline(dot)org with “Ask Global Wire Associates” in the subject line.

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