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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
You may not have everything you need before designing, but at least you’ll know what needs to be there before pushing your first pixel.
If your client has established a solid brand and provides good assets to work with, you’re likely in for a nice project experience as a designer. If not, it can be a long slog. Either way, it’s your job to deliver. This Part One of two looks at the basic building blocks of a solid creative brief, solid brand guidelines, and tips on how to compensate and deliver even when neither is in particular good order on the client’s side.