Logo design and branding don’t end after you launch your new logo and brand name to the world. In fact, once those elements are set free, you lose a lot of control. Therefore, it’s imperative that you develop a set of brand guidelines that provide specific rules related to how your logo, brand name, and other brand identity elements can be used.
Many Fortune 500 companies have brand identity guidelines that span dozens of pages. Others are much shorter. It’s up to you to determine the brand standards that you want to create and apply to your logo and brand identity elements. As long as the guidelines protect your logo, name, and brand so they cannot be misused, you’re on the right track.
With the growth of the social web, companies have less control of their logos, names and other brand identity elements than ever. You don’t want to stop the online conversation about your brand, so make sure your brand identity guidelines are specific but not so strict that you close the doors to publicity and opportunities with them.
The trick is to create brand identity guidelines that focus on ensuring your brand is portrayed consistently and accurately.
1. Logo use and reproduction: Ensure that your logo design always looks perfect anywhere it is used by explicitly stating that it should never be altered or redrawn. Tell people where they can request approved logos. Also, identify any placement or size requirements (e.g., in ads, on letterhead, in email signatures, and so on).
2. Icons, graphics, and symbols: If your brand identity includes specific graphics, icons or symbols, make sure you address how they can be used in your brand identity guidelines, so they are always consistent. For example, if your icon should always appear on a solid color background, include that rule in your brand identity guidelines.
3. Color: Big companies always have a specific color palette in their brand identity guidelines. The colors in that palette are the ones used in all marketing materials, communications materials, signage, and so on. They also have specific colors that their logos can be produced in. You should create the same kind of color guidelines for your logo and brand.
4. Fonts: Large companies choose two primary fonts to use in all materials–a serif font and a sans-serif font. Choose two fonts to represent your brand and make sure they’re used consistently by including them in your brand identity guidelines.
5. Imagery: Take a look at marketing materials from large companies in several different industries. You’ll see that some companies use only black and white photos of people in all of their materials while others use hand-drawn illustrations. Just like these large companies, you need to determine the type of imagery that best reflects your brand and include rules related to the use of imagery in your brand identity guidelines.
Once you determine what your brand identity guidelines are, put them together in a document and distribute them to your employees and vendors (including printers, designers, and so on). Also, provide them to business partners with whom you co-market and to charities or events that you sponsor where your business logo design is used in marketing materials. Finally, publish them on your website in a press or media section, so it’s easy for reporters to write about you.
Remember, consistency in branding helps build brand equity. If you spend the time to develop brand identity guidelines today, you’ll reap the benefits later through increased brand recognition.