What is a graphic standards guide?
A graphic-standards guide, (which can also be knowns as a brand style guide, brand identity guide, corporate identity guide, etc., etc.) gives an overview, best use practices, and examples for the visual identity of your brand. Contents of a standards guide can include direction on everything from stationery, colours, and fonts, to advertising styles and messages.
Some guides are limited to the application of visuals, while others also include word-related branding such as voice, personality, and key phrases.
A graphic standards guide contains all the information necessary to create any type of visual media. Whether it’s a print or online ad, business cards, signage or whatever all the information will be contained in the guide. This will keep your brand consistent and save you time and money.
Here is a link to some great graphic standards guides. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/examples-brand-style-guides
Why is it important?
Consistency in branding is vital, as it helps make sure your association members know content is coming from you. If every document you distribute looks completely different, their cumulative impact over time will be weaker.
Keeps messaging on point. As an association one of your goals is furthering your profession, the interests of the members of that profession and the relevant public interest.
Saves you time and money. If you need to create an advertisement quickly and your association does limited advertising, you either have to create the ad from scratch or search your files for the last ad you did.
There is a risk in just copying old files. Yes, you are keeping that one document type constant, but there is no guarantee that other people in your association are using the same template, or who created it in the first place.
Anytime anything new is needed to be created you can get all the information you need from the standards guide, keeping everything consistent.
Keeps all your assets together. Included with your guide should also be a file of all the assets used in the guide, letterhead templates, logos, colours, photos, fonts, etc. This will make sure everyone in your association is using the same styles and keeps your branding constant.
What is included in the guide?
- A guide on how to use, and more importantly, how not to use your logo.
- A list of fonts and how to use them.
- A selection of colours, both main and secondary colours including all colour breakdowns. (CMYK, RGB, HEX, and PANTONE).
- A sample of all stationery.
- Samples of memos, advertisements and other documents.
- Key words and phrasing -which phrases to use and which not to use.
- Optional: A place where people can get versions of your logo and other documents.
What if you don’t have a guide?
Hopefully when your association logo was created it came with a graphic-standards guide. If your association has a graphic designer on staff, or one that is familiar with your brand they can help you create one.
At the beginning your guide doesn’t need to be overly complicated. A logo usage guideline, list of colours, fonts and a few stationery templates a great place to start.
Your guide will be a living document. You will need to update it as your slogans change and as your social media presence increases. If you keep on top of your guide it will help make your association look more professional.
Where do you keep your guide?
Your graphic standards document isn’t a confidential file. You want anyone who works with your logo or brand to have access to it, and this can include sending it with your logo when you submit sponsorships. Your guide as well as all versions of your logo and other visual assets should be available on your network to anyone who works with these types of files.