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A Practical Brand

Different individuals approach brand in distinctive ways. My approach as a graphic designer is from the visual communications point of view, but definitions of brand are varied and at its broadest it can be read as ‘the intended public perception of my organisation/service/product’

My involvement with brand has been around designing and organising the visual assets that companies use to communicate in a consistent fashion. Others deal with spoken and written word, social media practices and more general business strategies. Whatever the angle, much of this finds its way into a brand manual, which you then distribute to your staff and stakeholders, and monitor its use and success whenever you have a chance. Which is probably infrequently.

Even the smallest organisations benefit from an agreed visual language, but what’s the minimum you’d need to get started and how far should you take it once you’re up and running?

It’s possible to propose a brand scheme for start-up, medium and large organisations – of which more below – but there’s a real risk of overkill (and also underestimation of the task) if you don’t investigate who says what to whom and via what channels. If your business happily runs itself on existing networks how much effort do you really need to put into formulating a brand manual? Who’s going to be using that manual on a regular basis;  do you need a complex set of rules on document production and photographic styling; do you need a suite of 25 variations of the same logo?  

Where to begin?

A good starting point to plan from might be:

What practices do we need to agree to at the moment, in order to communicate clear and consistent messages about ourselves?

We do offer a set of guidelines on production of a brand manual at different levels of complexity – mainly for purposes of giving our clients an idea of scale and cost – but we also try to focus on specifics and ask what a client’s particular immediate needs are, what’s practical and affordable right now, and what might need addressing at points in the future.

Below is a simple starting point for brand assets and guidelines

The Practical brand:

Logo Specification & usage:

  • A logo for Screen and for Print
  • Logo versions to suit different spaces. Usually square/landscape/portrait. Something compact and readable can work in most spaces
  • Minimum size in pixels and mm
  • Exclusion zone – so it has room to breathe
  • Best practice rules – how to avoid making a mess of it
  • Typography Specification: 
    • A font for titles
    • A font for blocks of text (Sometimes one font will do both jobs)
    • Demo of weights and full font set
    • Best practice – sizing and spacing
  • Colour Specification: 
    • Often a single colour is adequate but sometimes secondary colours are important. A complex colour palette may be a luxury for brand on a budget but some simple direction on how core colours should be applied is very useful
    • Print colour: A spot colour (Pantone) reference for print is usually enough. Four colour references can be derived from these by your friendly printer.
    • Screen colour for web, social media, internal documents, PDFs etc- These are defined as RGB (red green and blue) and hexadecimal (for HTML coding)

Very often the whole thing can be displayed on one page, as we've done for Surrey Information Point

Just for fun though, we’re working on the Full Monty – everything you could wish for in a brand manual and might never use :) More soon…

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