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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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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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Polish your brand management and your image will shine

As a creative professional, you know how important image can be. Whether you are a designer, illustrator, writer, developer, photographer, project manager, or a member of an account team—helping elevate the identity of your clients is a daily task. But have you taken a step back and thought about your own brand management? As a busy professional, developing your own brand often gets pushed aside. But polishing your professional identity could be the difference in progressing your career or gaining a new client.

In this post let’s dive into the art of self-promotion and brand management. I’ll explore some tips about branding for creatives and pose questions to get the ball rolling in your professional development.

Self Brand and Brand Management

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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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