What are Branding Standards?

In one of my previous post I talked about the Importance of Branding Standards. I have since received a few questions as to what is included in branding guidelines. What follows is a simple list of the basic elements every brand guideline should have. Please scroll down to download my Brand Standards Template so you can easily create your own.

*Note: This is a simplified version of branding standards. One suitable for a small client/business. When dealing with a large entity/brand, a more in depth version would be created.


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Client Logo: Primary

Your primary logo says a lot about the brand. Most designers, and businessmen alike, say that the logo is your brand. If this is true (and there is a lot of truth to that statement), than we need to ensure that our logo/brand stays intact. First and foremost in any branding standards should be your primary logo, your preferred logo for the client. Typically this is the full color logo. This should be the logo that you would prefer to be used on every piece of marketing material, from letterhead to website.

Client Logo: Secondary

If there is an instance were the primary logo can not be used. Then this would be the next preferred logo. Typically this logo is a reverse of your primary logo. Simply meaning, if your primary logo is inline (horizontal) then this version is typically a stacked (vertical) version. This is important to include a secondary version to help accommodate those instances where the primary logo just doesn’t make sense.


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Color Specifications:

One major struggle with others using logos your create, or designing collateral pieces, is the misuse of brand colors. Some people see the color red, and do not realize that there are thousands of different shades, hues and saturations of red. To help the brand stay consistent and strong, there is a great need for using the proper brand colors.

In this section you should call out all colors that are used in the primary/secondary logo. Also include any supporting colors that would help establish the brand. Make sure that when you are calling out each color, you give the PANTONE®, CMYK, and Hexadecimal numbers. This will ensure that no matter what format the logo is being used, the colors will always be consistant and brand approved.


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Brand Approved Fonts

I like to call out all the brand approved fonts, wether they be primary, secondary or tertiary. All fonts that are used with the brand should be included. I also find that rather than simply naming the fonts, it is useful to list the different weights and versions of those fonts used within the brand. As a simple visual reference, type out a few lines of copy so the font can be seen in use. I typically use numbers 0-9, a few special characters, and the alphabet (if needed list both uppercase and lowercase letters.)

Other Call Outs

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Alternate Logo Versions:

Sometimes the full logo just cannot be used, or perhaps it is needed as a one color or black and white version. If this is the case, then having pre-approved alternate logo variations is a good idea. This ensures that no matter where the logo is needed, it will always stay within the brand standards and look professional.

Other Call Outs:

Sometimes a brand has other brands closely associated or are children of a parent company. If this is the case, you might want to include other logos associated with the brand. Other options to call out might be the preferred way the logo is presented with the website, address, phone number, or all three together. One might choose to call out rules and guidelines for how the logo can and can not be displayed. Perhaps, it’s a simple call out of how large the logo must appear next to all other sponsor/affiliate logos.

Whatever you choose to call out in you brand guidelines, remember the more direct, clear and simple you can be the better.

Download Branding Standards Template