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Brand Style Guide Template
 

Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide

Today we introduce a new topic and new guest author to the Extensis blog. We’ve invited Pariah Burke (http://iampariah.com Twitter: @iampariah) to speak about the creation of Branding Style Guides. Pariah is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and the author of numerous books, video courses, and articles covering InDesign, InCopy, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, typography, asset management, epublishing, and the business of design. He is an Adobe Community Professional, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and an advisor to Adobe and other companies. We’re happy to have him join us, and now on to the good stuff!
 

Who Should Read This

Creating a Brand Style Guide is a 6-part series of articles that speaks directly to business owners, brand managers, and graphic designers, in-house or external, who create and work with brands, whether their own or clients’. This series is about understanding the importance of various brand communication elements, solidifying the desired uses of those elements and all interactions the brand will have with any entity, and learning strategies to set down clear, concise rules to ensure control and consistency of brand element usage and every visual representation of the brand across all media. For entrepreneurs, freelancers, and brand managers, the utility of such a series is in understanding what makes up the brands they own and manage, and in establishing their control over brand usage for consistent communications and interactions with the brand that are always on-message. Designers, advertising personnel, and intellectual property workers often create brand elements, and define rules for the usage of those elements, on behalf of their clients. For these individuals, the Creating a Brand Style Guide series provides help in building fuller, richer brand style guides, establishing brand asset distribution systems, and strategies—and a template—to fix brand usage rules and guidelines in a clear, easily distributable form.

Download our branding resources. You’ll receive Pariah Burke’s step-by-step document on how to create a brand style guide and a template you can use to build your own.

 

What Does Brand Actually Mean?

Before we talk about anything else, let’s define the word “brand.”

There are many conflicting laymen’s definitions you’ll find for the word “brand,” many seeking to limit the idea of branding to specific representative elements. Some people define brand as rancher’s do, as the logo seared onto their business card, website, Twitter avatar, and the remainder of their herd of assets. But that’s not your brand; that’s your logo. Even if you are a livestock rancher, the business definition of your brand is far more than merely your logo, whether that logo is on the end of an iron pole or printed on the side of pens you give away at conventions. Your brand is also the iron pole itself, and the arm and cowboy wielding it; it’s the manner, place, and time in which your livestock is seen—on your ranch, where you control the interactions with your brand, and out in the wild, when a rider comes upon a steer bearing your logo when you aren’t around to put that logo or even the cow into context. Your brand is everything about your company, everything visual and visceral. It’s the look and feel of your company to other people.

Let that last sentence sink in. Your brand is “the look and feel of your company to other people.”
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Part Six of Creating a Brand Style Guide

The Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

  • Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
  • Part Two: “Defining and Creating Your Logo Uses”
  • Part Three: Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media
  • Part Four: Defining Brand Typography
  • Part Five: Using Photography, Imagery, and Video in Your Brand

The 6-part Creating a Brand Style Guide series culminates in this final installment where you will create your brand’s style guide using this free brand style guide template.

Defining Your Brand Style
Creating a Brand Style Guide is a six-part series of articles that speaks directly to business owners, brand managers, and graphic designers, in-house or external, who create and work with brands, whether their own or clients’.

In parts one through five of the series you got to know your brand, evaluating, and defining each component from logo to colors, typography to imagery. You learned how to tell others to represent your brand and its constituent elements correctly. We explored the unique challenges your brand visuals face in the most common modern channels of print, Web, social media, ebook EPUB, fixed-layout ebooks, PDF and other digital publications, and video and broadcast. For each of those challenges there was a solution strategy for assuring brand consistency regardless of the medium. All these parts logically come together here, now, unified into a comprehensive guide that communicates your brand style rules to anyone who works with it.

The Brand Style Guide Template
Series author Pariah Burke created a brand style guide template to help you create your own style guide. Of course, you are free to create your own brand style guide, but for those who need a little guidance or hints here and there, or even a complete turnkey template, Extensis and Pariah Burke offer you this sleek, easy to edit template free of charge.

The brand style guide template is a ready-to-edit InDesign document in both INDD and IDML file formats, making it usable in all recent versions of InDesign, including all editions of InDesign CC as well as older CS4, CS5, and CS6 versions. Download it here. Graphic designers, brand managers, and others are also welcome to use it as a foundation from which to erect brand style guides for their clients. The template is royalty free.

Brand Style Guide Template

Brand Style Guide Template

The template is yours to use for your own brand. Graphic designers, brand managers, and others are also welcome to use it as a foundation from which to erect brand style guides for their clients. The template is royalty free, and no credit to either Extensis or Pariah Burke is necessary in style guides used for actual brands.
For ease of use and to avoid font licensing concerns, the template employs fonts exclusively from Adobe TypeKit. The fonts are included at no additional charge in your standard CreativeCloud or CreativeCloud for Teams subscription. All linked assets in the template, including logos and images, are included strictly for demonstration purposes; they may not be used in final designs or redistributed and are protected by copyright.

To use the template, open StyleGuideTemplate.indd or StyleGuideTemplate.idml in Adobe InDesign and begin editing the text, imagery, colors, and styles as necessary to reflect your brand or the brand of your client. Use as many pages as necessary; the format and structure of the template, including the page count, is flexible and should be adjusted to the needs of your specific organization.

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Part Five of Creating a Brand Style Guide

The Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

  • Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
  • Part Two: “Defining and Creating Your Logo Uses”
  • Part Three: Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media
  • Part Four: Defining Brand Typography

Photography and video are important brand elements. A brand style guide must guide their use as well as set forth procedures and rules for obtaining properly licensed and released stock imagery, and how to future proof the brand against copyright infringement claims.

In the Previous Installment

Part 4, “Defining Your Brand Typography,” was the largest installment in the Creating a Brand Style Guide series. In it you learned about the importance of typefaces to your brand, including how many companies have commissioned custom fonts to give their brands something no other has; choosing type families over individual typefaces for maximum flexibility in your written communications and designs; selecting special-use fonts to augment your main brand type families; how to select and define font usage for digital documents such as websites, ebooks, PDFs, and more; controlling the licenses and uses of fonts to keep your organization on the right side of the law; how to share and distribute brand fonts to your team, both in-house and external entities such as freelancers, vendors, and print service providers, and; how to communicate to all the agents who may work with your brand the guidelines and rules of using type and fonts to the maximum benefit of the brand.

Images and Video in the Brand Style Guide

Increasingly common is the practice of defining brand-appropriate use of images and video without style guides. With the rise of the Visual Web, a landscape dominated by photos and videos shared through social media, as well as almost universally growing Internet speeds and bandwidth, photographs and video clips have become important elements of even formerly text-only websites as well as every other aspect of a brand’s online presence.

Defining image and video usage when representing the brand varies in its spirt and depth depending on the brand. A children’s clothing designer, for example, will define very different imagery guidelines than would a B2B SaaS provider.

Daysee Dae Fashions might include in its brand style guide directives regarding the use of images and video such as those in Figure 1.

Using photography and video

Figure 1: Guidelines to using photography and video footage.

The B2B software-as-a-service developer, serving a broader audience and being more concerned with abstract concepts and feelings conveyed by imagery than by the representation of specific products, might include more generalized guidelines in its brand style guide. It may declare moods to focus on in photography, emotions to elicit, or intellectual and emotional concepts to convey via imagery.

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Part Four of Creating a Brand Style Guide

The Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

  • Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
  • Part Two: “Defining and Creating Your Logo Uses”
  • Part Three: Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media

Design is how you look. Type is how you sound. The tone of voice used by your type is your brand’s fonts. They need to be carefully selected, faithfully synchronized, and rigorously protected as the licensed intellectual property they are.

In the previous installment, Part 3: “Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media,” we discussed the importance of color as a brand asset and identifier. You learned how to start off selecting brand colors for matching rendering in all media, using print colors as the foundation. With print-ready colors in hand, you then converted them to screen-ready RGB and ultimately hex color codes for Web- and mobile-applications. Your brand colors defined, you then learned to communicate the values and formulas of those colors, and their roles within the brand, via your organization’s brand style guide.

Fonts Give Your Brand a Tone of Voice

I’ve been quoted as having said: “People respond more to how you look and sound than to what you actually say. Design is how you look; type is how you sound.” The last statement is an axiom to keep in mind as you consider the typefaces—fonts—that represent your brand. Another aphorism I’m found of is “a typeface is the tone of voice in which the mind’s ear hears your written message.” Printed text is how your brand is represented when you aren’t there to speak for it. The fonts you use to set that text provide the tone and emotional context for your printed words. As the brand manager, you should be as meticulous in choosing and controlling the fonts used to represent your brand as the colors and imagery.

Commission a Custom Font

To truly make your brand unique you can commission a custom font. A bespoke typeface would be yours and yours alone, giving your brand a unique voice. If the idea sounds far-fetched, it isn’t; it’s quite common. Adobe, British Airways, Buccellati, Domino’s, Dwell Magazine, General Electric, HarperCollins, News Corp., Sony, Southwest Airlines, and Zazzle are just a few companies who wanted signature fonts that were genuinely signature—unique and designed to the brand. Even humble Times New Roman, the ubiquitous typeface pre-installed on every computer since 1992, was a custom font commissioned in 1931 to give its purchaser, the London newspaper, The Times, an exclusive and highly readable typeface.

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Part Three of Creating a Brand Style Guide

Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

  • Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
  • Part Two: “Defining and Creating Your Logo Uses”
  • Part Four: (coming soon)

 

In the Previous Installment

In the previous installment, Part 2: “Defining and Communicating Your Logo Uses,” you learned to think of your logo in terms of an asset that must be protected through strict usage and placement rules. You created different versions, color spaces, and formats to account for its use in any situation and medium, including print, on the Web, in ePUB and fixed-layout ePUB, video, and other media. You learned how to manage and organize your different logo editions for easy access by any teammate, partner, or client, as well as how to communicate logo usage guidelines and proper treatment for each rendition of the logo right within the logo file itself. You learned to document through text and visuals rules required sizes, placements, and spacing around the logo, alignment of the logo relevant to specific surrounding elements, and other common brand style guide requirements for consistent logo application.

 

Equating Color with Your Brand

Depending on your business, what it does, what it stands for, color may be an important visual element of your brand or the most vital.

Coca-Cola owns several truly iconic trademarks such as the flowy script of its logo, the shape of the classic Coke bottles. As valuable as those pieces of intellectual property are, none is more so than the color Coca-Cola Red. It’s a registered trademark color vigorously protected in every country in the world. Few people on Earth don’t instantly connect and equate that unique and almost ubiquitous shade of crimson with Coca-Cola, even when the color is far removed from a can, bottle, or white swoosh.

Where would Barbie be without her signature pink? Mary Kay and T-Mobile are also identified by their own unique, trademarked hues of pink. What could brown do for you if it wasn’t so intrinsic to the UPS brand? Millions of people start their days with the signature green aprons, cups, and wrappers of Starbucks. More aprons, this time in orange, even more readily identify the Home Depot brand. The list of brand-crucial colors stretches on, across all industries.
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Part Two of Creating a Brand Style Guide

Creating a Brand Style Guide Series is written by Pariah Burke, consultant and trainer for creative, publishing, and editorial professionals.

Part One: “Why You Need a Media-Comprehensive Brand Style Guide.”
Part Three: “Establishing Consistent Brand Colors Across Media” (coming soon)

Your logo, the harbinger of your brand and without a doubt the most crucial of your brand assets, must be protected through strict usage rules. What are those rules? Where and when do they apply? How do you best communicate those rules for consistent, controlled representation of your brand herald? You’ll answer these questions—and more in Creating a Brand Style Guide, Part 2: “Defining and Communicating Your Logo Uses.”

In the Previous Installment

In Part 1 we defined what brand means and how important it is to define a framework for the consistent, controlled representation of that brand in all media.

Protect Your Logo

Few assets are as important to your business as your logo. Creating the mark that will be the harbinger of your brand goes far beyond having a great design. Ensure it’s protectable by investigating its uniqueness as an identifying mark in your area of business. Original logo artwork may be protected through copyright, but when a design identifies a brand, as your logo does, trademark protection is far more important that copyright. Your logo must be unique and dissimilar from any other trademark or service mark used within the same class or classes of businesses. If it isn’t, you will be infringing on another trademark or service mark. Copyright allows owners to go after infringers and to license some or all rights to the copyright protected material to be used by, or become representative of, other entitles. Trademark law, however, obligates mark holders to aggressively defend the uniqueness and unapportionable nature of their logos and other marks. Failing to properly vet your logo in the marketplace could cause you to lose all rights to it—and worse.

Learn more about protecting your digital assets. Download our free digital asset management best practices guide.

Before you build a brand style guide for a new or recently changed brand, engage an intellectual property to ensure the originality of your logo and other protectable brand elements. Trademark law falls under the domain of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As such you’ll usually find attorneys who specialize in trademarks listed under “patent law.”

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