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How to Craft a Visual Standards Guide for Your Brand (Part 2)

By Zachary Houle on Mar 13, 2017 10:39:11 AM

The last blog post about crafting a visual standards guide talked about where to find inspiration and how to come up with a brand story. This blog post will go into more detail about the specific elements that should encompass your visual standards guide.

Figure Out Your Logo Size and Placement

Your logo is crucial to your brand. You want to make sure it is used consistently, so, in your guide, you should state exactly how to use it.

Include all of the approved versions of your logo along with visual examples. List the minimum size and proper proportions. If your logo needs white space around it, have clear instructions. Show variations of your logo -- such as when it’s reversed, in colour and in black and white -- and when to use them.

Also, show examples of how not to use the logo. Designers are creative creatures, so you want to show them what they shouldn’t do alongside what they should.


Figure Out Your (True) Colours

This is one of the most important aspects of your visual standards guide. After all, if the colour of McDonald’s Golden Arches were any different, would you still recognize the company?

You need to give the exact RGB and hex codes for using colours on the web, as well as the CMYK values and Pantone colours for things that will be printed. Manually check any conversions between RGB and CMYK to make sure they’re accurate.

Related: Colour Confusion? RGB and CMYK explained & Colour your Brand


Pick Fonts and Typography That Reflect Your Uniqueness

You will want to be consistent with your fonts and typography in order to look professional. You might need different typefaces for different purposes. Your guide should show which font goes where and how to use it. A tip: use a different font than the one in your logo for text. The contrast can make things pop.

Be sure to explain your choices and give clear instructions for each font’s use.


Consider Your Photographic Style

If photography and images (including illustrations or other graphics) are an important part of your brand, your visual standards guide should say how images will be collected, edited and used. The guide should also define when and how certain types of images are to be used. For instance, is clip art use okay? Will images be in colour or black and white?

For photography, remember that photographers are visual, too, and will need examples along with any specifications that they can refer to as well.


Think About Web-Specific Elements

Consider that there are usually multiple pages to a website. Each page has to look related to the next. Figure out what information is most important and what hierarchy the information should be presented in. Buttons and navigation should match your branding.

Also, think about your homepage and what should and shouldn’t be put on it. If you’re using social media, consider what guidelines you want around imagery in posts.


Plan to Evolve

Your visual standards guide will be a living document, so you’ll probably add to it or adjust information as time goes on. Create a folder to keep new ideas as you find them, and review and revisit them at specific times of the year -- whether it be a month, a quarter or a year after everything has been initially finalized.

Contact Cyan

Want to create a visual standards guide? Contact Cyan Solutions. We can help you through the entire process as part of our branding package offerings.


Contact Us Today!


Topics: Branding, Visual Standards Guide

Zachary Houle

Zachary Houle

Zachary Houle is a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, where he blogs for a number of clients. As a sometimes writer of fiction, as well, he is the recipient of a $4,000 arts grant from the City of Ottawa for emerging artists and a Pushcart Prize nominee. His fiction and poetry has been published in countless online and print literary journals and magazines in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He enjoys blogging about books on Medium.com, and was recently named one of the Top 50 writers on the topic of books on Medium.