Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video The standards manual 2, part of Branding for Designers.
- Now that we've discussed the reasons and possible formats for a standards manual, let's dig in to its contents. First, you might have a short note from the CEO or owner. This is a good message that the boss endorses this. It's a good reminder that the brand message and identity system is not a voluntary choice. I then add the brand messages and attributes. This helps the user understand why they are using these identity system elements and what they are communicating. Second, the logo is shown in full color, black and white and white.
Give each of these examples space. The point is to make it exciting and dramatic. Tiny logos just look unimpressive. Third, show the logos architecture, minimum size allowance and clearance space. This makes sure someone doesn't shrink the logo so small it's illegible, or put another element too close to the logo and change it. I add a page here to show what is okay to do with the logo and what is not okay to do. But don't overdo it on the don't page.
It makes the system prison-like. I like to show the color palette as more than just a row of colors. The point is to make this look exciting to use. Each color is displayed with the Pantone number, CMYK values and RGB values. Next, the typography palette. Show the entire alphabet of all the typefaces you have chosen. Make it clear if the face has different weights, whether these are okay to use or not. For many years, GAP maintained Helvetica Medium Roman as the only option, not Helvetica Light, Black or Italic.
Then, if you've a chosen a set of patterns or materials, show them and let the user know how and when to use them. The images are next. Show examples of the type of imagery in your system. Make sure the content is clear, as is the photo and illustration style. If there is a specific style that is created digitally, provide the process to do it. Now you've provided the user with all the building blocks they need to design items that will be consistent and communicate the brand message.
But I like to show examples of this. These help clarify what the goal is. Think of it as showing the completed car on a model kit. Finish the manual with instructions for help. List the person to contact if something isn't clear, or someone needs more information. This person is usually the brand manager or communications lead. Don't list yourself, if you do, you'll become a 24 hour, on-call information desk and hopefully you'll be busy with your next branding project.
- 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