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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 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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In recent years, there have been a number of studies on how powerfully music can affect us. Psychologists and scientists have been looking at the link between music and mood, work efficiency and concentration for years. Music can stimulate learning, improve concentration, enhance cognitive performance, boost productivity, motivation, and endurance, and even affect your memory.

Audible Inspiration: How Logos and Type Express Music We Love; Chicago logo

Gentle-sounding but massively popular soft rock bands of the ‘70s favored quasi-script and calligraphy fonts.

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