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What are Branding Guidelines?

By Joe Bradnum, published Thursday, January 29th, 2015


Every company from small to large has a set of branding guidelines… or at least should have. Branding Guidelines are a set of rules and ‘guides’ on how to use a specific brands logo, not all branding guidelines are the same though, when creating your guidelines you may only need to use a few pages or in some cases a few hundred! For example, Adobe’s brand guidelines are an extremely lengthly and in depth set of rules on how and where to use their logo. Because Adobe is a well known and well established corporation their guidelines are extremely strict, their guidelines consist of about 60 pages. Not every brand guidelines document will need to be this long.

An example of branding guidelines is Podpea’s Kailo project which I was involved with designing. The branding guidelines for Kailo was fairly short as we didn’t need to dive into significant detail unlike other brands, as I said, every brands guidelines will be different in both rules and regulations.

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For Kailo, the branding Guidelines were fairly simple, all that was needed were different logo colour uses, e.g, standard colours and inverted, greyscale, the logo on a background image, a colour palette, size & clear space and what not to do with the logo.

When creating your own brand guidelines you must include the standard logo colouring, an inverted version and a greyscale version for the logo colour usage section as your logo has to work in both full colour and greyscale. You can also include monotone colour versions as well.

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You also must include a colour palette with your primary, secondary and complimentary colours for both primary and secondary, also if you wish to have any further colours you can add tertiary colours. When creating the colour palette it’s important to include all hex codes, RGB values, CMYK values and also Un-coated and Coated Pantone values. Consider every single colour that you will use within the project, whether it just be a logo, website, app or all 3, it’s important to keep the colouring that you’ve chosen as this will help to reinforce the brand image.

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Size & Clear Space is also an important one to add into your guidelines, bare in mind though that every size & clear space for a logo will be different, it’s your choice on the minimum clear space for your logo. Also take into account the different sizes of your logo, for example, if you’ve got a 200px logo for web use with a clear space of 25px and also have a 72px logo for web use with the same clear space then the 72px logo would look slightly odd with a large clear space around it, so try a percentage. For Kailo I used a clear space of 10% minimum.

For print use I used a 1.00″ minimum logo with a 0.50″ clear space up to A3 size, anything larger than that, the logo and clear space should be re-sized proportionally to the piece. Size & Clear Space is all subjective to an extent, generally anything under about 72px is used for web banners and email newsletters, anything over that is either used for print or website/app use.

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Lastly for Kailo I added how not to use the logo, this isn’t a necessary part to add but I threw it in anyway. It’s just a quick page on what not to do with the Kailo logo. No changing of the orientation, no cropping of the logo, no changing of the brand colours, no effects overlaid on to the logo and no replacing or re-creating of the key elements that make up the logo, simple.

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Just to summarise, all branding guidelines will be different and not all need to have over 100 pages of corporate nonsense, so for whatever you’ve created think carefully how and where your creation will be use, seen, bought etc, and think about how you’d like to keep your logo consistent across all forms of media.