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Designing strategy for brands

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Branding is like your client’s fingerprint, and their website is like their face.  If you are handing over the creative elements, you need to have a clear and concise style guide.    Know who your audience is and write accordingly.  It should be short enough in length to keep the reader focused, yet still include everything down to the stationary.  The last thing you want for your client is to become unrecognizable.

The packaging of the style guide should include an engaging cover letter and be well laid out.  It should be in an easy to read format, with descriptions of the reasons for the choices.  Be sure to include images to assist with these explanations.

In addition your contact details should be included and a smaller version for quick access.  As well, there should be a printable PDF copy to accompany the digital file.  There will be changes, probably at some point, so be sure to have easy access to the file, for updates.

The guide should begin, in bold, with an outline of the brand and website, which includes the company vision.   While there will be some room for creativity on behalf of the new designer, be sure to include a DO NOT DO section.  This will assist with cutting out communication blunders.

The Contents of the Style Guide

Templates for Printable Copy

Templates should be provided for the printable copy such as letterheads, business cards and envelopes.  Having everything placed correctly does not help if the color format and resolution are off.

Layouts and Grids (Text and Images)

In maintaining consistency and flexibility set up templates for grids.  Generic grids can stifle over-active creativity and keep the elements of the grid intact.

Logos

The logo is the center point of the brand, and changes can be detrimental.  Be sure to provide strict guidelines on the minimum size element, particularly when the logo is displayed with text.   If it is not sized correctly, the logo may not fit, and the brand may not be recognized.  Place emphasis on what colors can be used.

Images

Images set the tone for many designers.  This is where special attention must be given for explanations and examples.  Make sure it is understood why the particular images were selected.

Tone and Copy-Writing

Every brand has a tone that is used in their text on the web and in their copy-writing.  Specify the tone to maintain consistency.  This is especially important if there will be more than one writer.

Font

Part of branding is the font used for content.  If there is an uncommon font used anywhere, be sure to include the code.

Color

Color palettes and their usage should always be included.  Formats for usage on the website or when printed should be mentioned.

Spacing

Line spacing and spacing between letters are the deciding factors of eligibility.  Balance of white to printed text needs to be discussed to carry out a pleasant viewing experience for the reader.

Navigation

If a website is not easy to navigate, people will leave, after seconds and won’t return.  Accordingly, it is a good idea to explain the protocol on what to do after new content is added.

Basic Coding Guidelines

When it comes to coding, not everyone is the same.  To alleviate the possibility of a major change in styles, discusses basic guidelines with regard to coding.

Style guide enforcement may not happen automatically.  To check on this and the functionality of the style guide should be reviewed.   Make sure to schedule a review after its usage to see if there are any problems to be fixed.

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