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Working with logos

From: Developing a Style Guide

Video: Working with logos

It would be a mistake to consider the logo and the brand synonymous. The logo is just one visual representation of the brand. However, it is the most important visual representation, and is likely the first ambassador of your brand that potential clients and customers will come into contact with. Understandably, we feel rather protective of our logo. The purpose of this section of the style guide is to make explicit how the logo can be used; when, if appropriate, alternate versions of the logo can or should be used; and perhaps most importantly, how the logo should not be used.

Working with logos

It would be a mistake to consider the logo and the brand synonymous. The logo is just one visual representation of the brand. However, it is the most important visual representation, and is likely the first ambassador of your brand that potential clients and customers will come into contact with. Understandably, we feel rather protective of our logo. The purpose of this section of the style guide is to make explicit how the logo can be used; when, if appropriate, alternate versions of the logo can or should be used; and perhaps most importantly, how the logo should not be used.

When focusing on negatives--i.e. things that should not be done--avoid using a patronizing tone. The designers implementing your brand are your collogues. Talk to them as equals and most importantly, show them, using examples, why certain usages are inappropriate. If your logo is the way it is for historical reasons, say so here. If certain elements of the logo have a historical importance, explain it. Perhaps the logo has evolved over time to its present form.

Show how this evolution has happened. Many logos may be combined with a tagline, a short pithy statement that describes the company or product, or explains its philosophy. Nike: Just Do It; Apple: Think Different; FedEx: The World on Time; Target: Expect More, Pay Less. If yours is such a logo then you should include specific instructions about in what circumstances it's necessary to use the logo with the tagline and in what circumstances the logo should be used alone.

Many logos come in different versions. In the example of the Roux Academy logo, there are different versions for internal documents and client-facing documents. The style guide should make it clear when to use what version and why. Your logo has been designed to read well at a variety of sizes, but there is a threshold minimum size below which the symbol, or more likely the type, will be illegible or unreadable. You'll need to decide what this minimum size is and state explicitly that it should never be used below this size.

Positioning your logo too close to the edge of a page or screen will undermine its integrity, so state clearly any restrictions on the positioning of your logo. An important aspect of your logo design is the whitespace around it. The style guide should contain a diagram indicating the whitespace or clear space around the logo. This may be expressed explicitly as an absolute measurement, in inches and metric, or perhaps more usefully, since the logo will be reproduced in a range of sizes, as a relative size using one of the logo elements.

Logos frequently need to be flexible enough to be used with sub-brands. In the case of the Roux academy, the sub-brands are the different academic departments. In practical terms, you should explain what versions of the logo are available for download, and when they should be used. These files can be stored on your web server, perhaps in a password-protected media relations portal. You can make a hyperlink to them in the PDF document.

These then are some other considerations to take into account when preparing guidelines for your logo usage.

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Developing a Style Guide

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Nigel French
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