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Guide to Brand Guides

Mabble Media - Creative Agency | Guide to Brand Guides

By Brayli Dripps

As we’ve explored in our Logo Lore blog, it is beneficial to think of your business or organization as a living person. The logo, as we covered, is the face that makes a first impression. And there are many parts that make up the personality, presentation, and presence. Through this lens, you can think of a brand guide as that person’s manual. All of the parts that make them a unique individual are spelled out so that anyone acting on their behalf can do so correctly. 

This guide to brand guides will help you understand what a brand guide is and why it is important, variation in brand guides, who should use it and when, and how to navigate file types. 

WHAT IS A BRAND GUIDE?

A brand guide is a resource that helps you to understand how a company engages with its audience, visually and/or personally. It is the instruction manual of a brand. The included guidelines help you navigate a brand’s requirements for aesthetic things such as usage of logos, typography, and branding assets, but also dives into more of the identity pieces such as mission and vision and how to interact with audiences.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

A brand guide is a resource that helps you to understand how a company engages with its audience, visually and/or personally. It is the instruction manual of a brand. The included guidelines help you navigate a brand’s requirements for aesthetic things such as usage of logos, typography, and branding assets, but also dives into more of the identity pieces such as mission and vision and how to interact with audiences.

Brand consistency and trustworthiness

You’ll find that brands that use a brand guide effectively are recognized immediately by audiences. This consistent experience between the brand and its audience allows for the brand to appear credible, reliable, and perhaps even safe. Ultimately, this increases brand trust in a way that secures a loyal customer base and adds to the brand’s success. 

To show you what I mean, take a look at these logoless advertisements that are still very obviously a specific brand. These companies have implemented their branding so well that we can identify them with a glance, despite having no logo or name even present.

  • Nike
  • Mastercard
  • Coca Cola

Makes every project easier

If you invest in a brand guide, every project in the future will take significantly less time to create. Everything from business cards, to website creation will be informed by this guide. Having set expectations on the usage of assets, formatting, and general mood on these projects cuts out any unnecessary brainstorming, designing, and drafting. Sure, the investment in a guide can seem large, but it ultimately saves you a lot of time and money down the road. 

TYPES OF BRAND GUIDES

At Mabble, we have four basic brand guide packages. We suggest the Standard Brand Guide + Messaging because again, having more guidelines and expectations does a lot of good things for a brand’s success. However, even an abbreviated brand guide can get you where you need to go.

The Abbreviated Brand Guide

One page for design, in poster form.

Design Guidelines
  • Logo usage
  • Typography usage
  • Brand color palettes
  • Customized asset (pattern, shape, texture, etc)
See Ours

The Abbreviated Brand Guide + Core Messaging

One page for design, in poster form. One page for copy.

Design Guidelines
  • Logo usage
  • Typography usage
  • Brand color palettes
  • Customized asset (pattern, shape, texture, etc)
Core Messaging
  • Brand’s mission statement
  • Vision statements
  • Values
See Ours

The Standard Brand Guide

Extensive design guide, usually in the form of a booklet.

Design Guidelines
  • Logo usage
  • Typography usage
  • Brand color palettes
  • Additional design elements (such as pattern or shape.)
  • More specific stylistic implementations: these can be customized depending on what a client would most benefit from. Some examples include formatting guidelines, social media template mockups, interior design mockups, letterhead mockups, merchandise mockups.

In our standard brand guides we also include how NOT to represent your brand: using logos incorrectly, creating accidental inconsistencies that are detrimental to a brand.

See Ours

The Standard Brand Guide + Messaging

Extensive design and messaging guide, usually in the form of a booklet. 

Design Guidelines
  • Logo usage
  • Typography usage
  • Brand color palettes
  • Additional design elements (such as pattern or shape.)
  • More specific stylistic implementations: these can be customized depending on what a client would most benefit from. Some examples include formatting guidelines, social media template mockups, interior design mockups, letterhead mockups, merchandise mockups.
Messaging
  • Mission statement
  • Vision statements
  • Values
  • Target audience- who specifically do you reach
  • Tone of voice (how to write and even how to speak in customer relations)
  • Brand positioning (what sets brand apart from competitors)
See Ours

WHO SHOULD USE IT AND WHEN?

A brand guide is for anyone and everyone who may have a part in representing a brand. Providing all staff, volunteers, and interns with a brand guide is a great way to ensure consistency across the board, no matter who touches collateral. The guide can be used in the creation of any collateral and in the approval stages as well. It should be referenced whenever someone is representing the brand, whether that be through media or in person.

A guide can also be given to any printers or designers that help you out with projects, as it can be helpful for them to understand exact colors, fonts, and expectations too.

HOW ARE FILE TYPES USED?

In terms of your actual guide, Mabble will provide you with a PDF. This can be shared digitally, but we also suggest that it be printed out so your office can refer to it. 

Within the guide package, you will receive logo files (if you haven’t already), font files (TTF or OTF), and files for any shapes, assets, patterns, or textures. 

To cover our bases and help you understand whatever file type you might receive, we’ve listed out some characteristics below. 

DESIGN FILES

EPS – Encapsulated PostScript

Benefits:
  • Transparent background
  • Vector file format (this means shape is not determined by color of pixels, but by points, curves, and lines so edges will remain smooth no matter what)
  • Easily scalable (for large billboards or tiny business cards)
  • Editable in shape and color (on design software)
When to use: 
  • Send to designers, printers, and the like
  • In print projects (flyers, magazine advertisements)
  • When your logo needs to be giant or tiny
  • When your logo needs to be placed on a colorful background

 

PDF – Portable Document Format

Benefits:
  • Supports transparent background
  • Formatted for print
  • Easy to share
When to use: 
  • When EPS is not accepted
  • In print projects (flyers, magazine advertisements)
When not to use:
  • In digital projects

 

PNG – Portable Network Graphic

Benefits: 
  • Transparent background
  • Doesn’t lose quality when resized
When to use:
  • Digital collateral 
  • On top of photos or colorful backgrounds
When not to use:
  • In print projects

 

JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group

Benefits: 
  • Easy to transfer over the internet 
When to use: 
  • Email signatures
  • Website
When not to use: 
  • On top of any photos or colorful backgrounds
  • When your logo needs to be giant

FONT FILES

TTF – True Type Format

Benefits: 
  • Works with print and digital 
  • TTF fonts are vectored, e.g.,can be resized (and manipulated) without losing quality
  • Most commonly used filetype
When to use: 
  • TTF works better for web or mobile design, though OTF will work too

 

OTF – Open Type Format

Benefits: 
  • Works with print and digital 
  • TTF fonts are vectored, e.g., can be resized (and manipulated) without losing quality
  • Supports more advanced typesetting features (a bevy of glyphs)
  • Could lead to file sizes that are significantly smaller
When to use: 
  • When using Mac OS X and Windows 2000 or later
  • When working with multiple languages
  • OTF works better for print design, though both will work

REFRESHMENTS

You may be inclined to think that swaying from your brand guidelines is okay every once in a while. And while it might be okay during a very specific event or campaign, we would throw a whole lot of caution to you in all other circumstances. Your colors and shapes and personality become the recognizable essence of your brand in the public eye, and even making subtle changes can compromise the power of your presence.

That being said, your branding will probably grow and change with your company’s culture over time. Your core identity might be timeless, but your messaging may need some updates every once in a while (especially your vision statements. We do hope your brand would meet its goals and have to reevaluate those sometimes). Your visual elements are sure to need some refreshing every once in a while too. Nothing extreme, but maybe a few adjusted colors or photography styles. 

A good rule of thumb would be to check in with your branding every five to ten years. Is it still communicating what you would like it to? Is it still a good representation of your personality? Is it still effective in your industry? 

In any case, whenever changes are made to your brand, they should be clearly defined so that all parties involved still have the resource they need to implement it all well.

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS

A brand guide is a powerful resource that helps you to understand how to engage with the community, visually or personally. 

If you find yourself in need of a branding guide or a refresh, or just have questions, feel free to reach out to us! We want to hear about what you are doing and would love to partner in communicating it to the world. 

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