Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video The standards manual 1, part of Branding for Designers.
Now that you've completed this enormous task of designing a brand message and visual system, it's time to create the standards manual. The standards manual is a set of instructions. It lets the user know how to design with your identity system. These exist to maintain consistency over time. Without this, your system will slowly errode when used by others. One designer may decide to add colors or change them entirely. Another might decide Garamond is much better than the Univers you selected.
Very quickly, all the efforts of maintaining a clear brand message have disappeared. Back in the days before the digital revolution, standards manuals were giant, clunky, and complicated manuals. Every application of the identity system was depicted in detail. Nothing was left to chance. And since the work was being produced manually, without digital templates, this was necessary. Since then, the job of a standards manual has become simpler.
All of the elements, from the logo to the stationary system, exist in digital form so the manual has become more of a of a brand messaging guideline. A standards manual can be as dull as a doorknob or more playful. I prefer it to be more interesting than an electronics manual. Like all design, you want to seduce the viewer and engage them. The manual exists for the designer using the logo, color palette, and other brand visual elements. It also exists to remind the client or client's employees why this visual program exists and commmunicates the brand strategy.
Standards manuals used to be big binders with removal pages. This allowed for updates and changes over time. Today, the manual can be whatever format you decide works best. Where will it be most useful and not ignored? It can be a poster, tiny book, or traditional publication. Whatever the printed form, it will also exist as a PDF file to live on the user's desktop. A standards manual's content may vary depending on the client but there are basic components in each manual.
We'll cover these in the next lesson, Standards Manuals 2.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books