This is the fourth and final installment of the Brand Audit series. So far we’ve learned how to build your brand foundation, how to tell if your logo is working, and what else you need to complete your branding.
Once you have all of your visual branding elements that were discussed in last week’s post, the last step is to put it all together consistently and cohesively.
Brand Guidelines 101
When I work with clients on their branding I always give them a PDF of brand guidelines at the end of a project to show them how to best use their new branding. It’s a document that outlines the do’s and don’ts of their branding, with visual examples.
Consider the following your brand guidelines. Even though they’re not specific to your brand, there are some general guidelines that can apply to just about any brand.
Use your primary logo on most of your branded material to create brand recognition. The consistent use of it will go far in creating a professional and memorable brand.
Always apply your logo with care. This means don’t stretch or distort it. Don’t add elements or effects to it (like a drop shadow,) especially if you hired a professional to design it.
Always give the logo some clearance space. Keep it away from competing elements, like images or text, that might compete with it or crowd it.
You can use secondary marks in addition to the primary logo, or in places of less importance. Stick to using one secondary mark at a time and don’t use it directly next to the primary logo.
As with the primary logo, secondary marks should always receive appropriate clearance space.
Only use your approved color palette. That’s it. Seems simple, but for some reason people often try using non-brand colors. Just don’t.
Same thing here, only use your approved brand fonts. Stick to a singular font for headings and one for body copy. These can be the same or two complimenting fonts (like a serif and sans serif), but be consistent in your use of them. If you usually have your headings in all caps, stick to that style. Use color, scale, italics, or bold to create hierarchy or add emphasis where needed.
Use patterns subtly and sparingly. Be careful about using your logo or secondary marks on top of a pattern. Depending on the pattern, this can look too busy.
Stick to a consistent photography style as much as possible. If you overlay your logo or secondary marks on top of a photo, avoid using busy photos. Photos with shallow depths of fields tend to work best for this treatment. You can also apply a transparency over the image to help with legibility.
Final WOrd of Advice
Remember, you don’t have to use every single element, every single time. Use them wisely and sparingly and your brand will look much more professional.
Thank you for joining me for this series! That wraps it up. While the Brand Audit series may be over, there will be plenty more branding posts to come. Stay tuned and sign up for my email list to receive a FREE Mini Branding Guide!