Managing the consistency of a brand identity system is facilitated by documented standards and guidelines that are easily accessible to all internal and external partners who have the responsibility of communicating the brand. While the range and formats of these documents may include CDs, posters, fact sheets, PowerPoints and PDFs, I've found that PDFs tend to be the best format for ease of creation, delivery and security.
Whether you are small non-profit organization or a large enterprise, it is important to develop brand guidelines to ensure consistency. Below is a list of topics to consider when creating your brand standards and guidelines.
Introduction to the brand
Discuss the evolution of your brand and why it is important to follow the brand guidelines. Let the user know the guidelines will continue to evolve, then encourage suggestions and questions.
Corporate signature guidelines
Your corporate signature is often the hear of your identity. Discuss the components (brand mark and logotype) of the signature and how they are placed together.
How the tagline fits the signature
Provide the tagline and show correct placement of the tagline with the signature. In many cases the signature may be used vertically or horizontally. In this case, it's important to show the placement of the tagline for both formats.
Clear space around your signature
Clear space is an important, but sometimes ignored guideline. Determine the amount of clear space around your signature and tagline, then stress the importance of using the recommended clear space.
Hopefully, you've created a signature that can be used in multiple formats based on printing and reproduction methods. It's important to provide guidelines for those formats so users do not deviate from those guidelines and can make an educated decision on which format to use. Show the signature colors in full-color, black on white and white on black examples. It's always a good idea to provide the recommended format, but let them know that legibility should be the top priority.
Typography for print and web
Provide the users with all approved typography. Again, let the users know why the correct use of typography is important, then provide them with examples of usage.
Provide your users with a list of approved color specifications for the brand. It is recommended to provide all colors and their color values based on how/where the color will be represented. Values to consider may be Spot Color, CMYK, RGB and Hex.
Use of photography
Imagery typically plays a very important role within web and print materials. Inconsistent imagery can make the brand look unorganized and unprofessional. It's important to set guidelines around imagery and provide several examples of correct and incorrect usage of images.
Use of patterns and illustrations
Like photography, the incorrect use of patterns and illustrations dilute branding efforts. Ensure that your brand guidelines provide several examples of correct and incorrect usage.
Brand manager contact information
Lastly, it is important that the users have the correct contact information for questions or suggestions regarding brand elements. Make sure you provide and update contact information.
While there are many more considerations including tone of voice, template usage, etc, the recommendations listed will be a good start for any organization. An effective brand strategy provides a central unifying idea around which all behavior, actions and communications are aligned. A well thought out brand guideline is the first step to ensuring consistent branding across your organization.