One of the most common mistakes we see while working with clients, whether on a web design project or a web marketing campaign, is the idea that you can communicate your brand online through easy and quick pre-designed templates and this will save you the hassle of defining a set of rules that must accompany every element of your branding. Another case we encounter often is when clients try to work backwards, starting with their website or social media properties, only to go back and define a branding strategy ex post.
As we’ve seen in our previous article, if you want to develop an organic and consistent branding strategy, you need to start from your branding strategy, and in particular your brand guidelines. The rest will follow.
So, when working on your brand guidelines here are the five essential elements that every brand styleguide needs:
1) An organized archive of all the visual assets that are available
From your logo in all its versions and variations to the brand gallery and the inspirational moodboard, this is the place where all the visual assets that are related to your brand must live.
Think of it as a single source of truth for anything related to your brand visuals.
2) Guidance on when to use each visual element and its versions
The context in which visual assets mentioned above can be used and in which version. Think of the difference the background makes on the logo version that’s more appropriate: often times the logo you want on a white background will be a different version from the one you want on a dark background.
3) Colour and typography usage
When it comes to colours, one of the most frequent mistakes we encounter is the belief that once you’ve set up a colour palette with your primary and secondary colour the job is done. A good brand styleguide must have at least three palettes: Primary Palette (containing the main brand colours), Secondary Palette (this can be scale of grays that will be accepted), Alert Palette (with ‘warning’, ‘success’ and ‘failure’ colours). Similarly, the typography guidelines, must define every aspect of the use your brands typefaces, including the rules for their use in common text, your titles, etc. You need to ask yourself questions like “are shadows allowed?”, “is this a flat design? Or we’re working with bevel and emboss? If yes, how?”.
4) Spacing and layout guidelines
Spacing, layout and grids are fundamental elements to organize the space and manage the rythm of your designs. This will ultimately contribute to define your tone of voice and your general branding which, as we know, needs to be consistent across channels and media.
5) DOs and DO-NOTs
Things like squishing and stretching and butchering the logo or any other misuse of your brand assets you might think of.