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Brand Guidelines = Some Damn Sexy Design


Me: Hi, would you be able to send me your logo in high res?

Client: Sure thing, see attached

*Attaches Word document*

Me: Do you not have a better quality version, like a PDF or EPS?

Client: Oh I see what you mean, please find attached.

*Attaches screenshot*


The Struggle is real

If you’re a designer, a marketer, or anyone who deals with a company’s brand identity I guarantee you’ve been there.

You ask your client for the best quality version of their logo and first you get a word document with the logo shoe horned in the corner of a letter head and when you ask for a better version, you get a screenshot from the website or a previous piece of marketing.

Not ideal, right? And if you’re on the other end of this and you’re the one who is scrambling for any version of your company logo in the labyrinth of files and documents on your server then prepare to have your socks well and truly blown off, as there is a solution!

Brand guidelines?

Anybody working on someone’s brand should start with one simple question...

Do you have brand guidelines?

From the designer’s perspective, the dream response to this is “of course we do, please find attached to this email our full 30-page pdf brand booklet with logos, colour palette, design style and tone of voice."

Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 this doesn’t happen. On a good day, you might get sent a file with a decent resolution logo that can be scaled up and down and still look legible in whatever you’re using it on.

"But, I have a logo, what more do you need?! You’re the designer, you’re supposed to come up with the magic?"

Well yes, to some degree we are responsible for coming up with a super sleek looking piece of design, that’s why you hire a designer. But this isn’t about making our lives easier nor is about getting the job done quicker, it’s about YOU and your companies image. And I don’t mean your image as a respectable company, or ethical and diversified. I mean your actual visible image.

What makes up your brand guidelines?

A text book brand guidelines document consists of a few basic elements:

· A logo

· a set of 2-3 typefaces

· a company colour palette

· some basic design styles to adhere to.

This is a basic example remember. Some of the big dogs in industry have brand guidelines that put War and Peace to shame. But to begin with, this is all you need.

The key to great content is consistency.

Let’s imagine you're building a campaign and you have limited in-house creative staff. You have a copywriter whom you use ad hoc to create blogs and a couple of freelance designers who take on the overflow of work. Unless you get them all in the same room and constantly review their work how are you meant to guarantee that all the design and creative assets that have been briefed out all carry the same style and form? Yep, you’ve guessed it... give them all a set of brand guidelines to follow!

Now let’s face facts every creative will throw their ‘artistic license card’ in the ring now and again and add some spice that wasn’t on the recipe to begin with, but that’s just in our nature. But, you would be amazed at the consistency you start to see when you restrict the designer to a specific set of colours, fonts and design style.

A great brand is like a wedding

Ok, this is a bit of a tenuous link but bear with me…

Imagine you’re at a wedding. The bride is usually carrying a bouquet of flowers. The bridesmaids are carrying the same type of flowers. Those bridesmaids have a particular coloured dress, the colour of the dress matches the ties that the groom and the groomsman are wearing, and hold the phone one second because they all have a button hole flower that matches the bridesmaid’s flowers. You walk into the wedding ceremony and the ribbons tied around the chairs match the colour of the bridesmaid dresses.

You get where I’m going with this right?

Nothing is identical, but everything feels like it belongs together as there is consistency in style and colour. #MindBlown

So, next time you’re working on any form of design whether it be a flyer for an exhibition, a piece of email marketing or a social media post think about a form and structure that allows for consistency, alignment and as my university lecturer once famously said, “some damn sexy design”.


About Gareth

Gareth is a Manchester based graphic designer specialising in logo design and brand identity. As a keen networker and self-proclaimed social butterfly, Gareth is always up for coffee and a chat with anyone who wants to talk about business, tips on being self-employed and the best beard grooming products.



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