Welcome back to our four-part series on democratizing design. In our first blog, we went over several ways that we democratize messaging for our clients. Last week we went over democratizing websites. This week, we're sharing three ways that we're democratizing branding. Let's get started.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a company use 10 slightly different shades of blue across all of their branding 🙋♂️. Not very professional, right?
At IFC Studios, every brand project gets a brand guide from us at the end—whether it's for a completely new brand identity, a full-scale brand redesign, or a simple brand refresh. So what is a brand guide, exactly? Simply put, a brand guide is a set of rules, parameters, and guidelines for displaying your brand.
A successful brand guide should include, at minimum:
- Logos: each and every logo variation, and rules for displaying those logos on print or digital media
- Colors: the full color palette, including digital and print color values (HEX, CMYK, RGB, etc)
- Typefaces: every font family, font weights used, the correct sizes and type scale, and best practices
- Placement: information for how to place the logos on print or digital collateral (social media, websites, business cards, flyers, etc) with examples of each
- Photo Direction: several examples of photography approved by the brand (when applicable) to know the general mood and style that should be reproduced with future media
- Dos and donts: general best practices, as well as things to avoid doing with the brand
The benefit of a brand guide to the client is huge, and I’m sure you can imagine why. With a brand guide, there is always a point of reference to rely on. Employees may come and go, and roles within the company can change with the needs of the business. By keeping a brand guide handy, everyone can understand how the brand should be shared with the world. The same is true anytime the client needs to hire a 3rd party. From social media managers, to print shops, to exterior signage: our clients can share their brand guide with these 3rd parties to ensure their brand stays consistent.
Licensed Fonts and Colors
Have you ever run into a situation where you couldn’t use a font because you didn’t own it? Super frustrating! And that frustration is exponentially increased if it’s a font that was used in your branding. (Trust us, we’ve seen it happen.)
When we develop your branding, we only use fonts that are:
- Already open-source and available to the public, e.g. Google Fonts
- Ones we can commercially license for our clients
- Licensed elsewhere and already available for commercial use
When we finish your branding project, we’ll ensure you have access to the font files, so you can download and install them to your computers, use them on your website, and so on.
The same is true for color. Wait a minute—color?! Are there really colors locked behind a paywall? Yes! In a recent blog post, we discussed in detail the recent changes to Pantone’s licensing system. (You can read that post here if you want.) The short of it is, Pantone now requires a monthly subscription to access their precious palettes.
As of 2023, we opted to develop color palettes that are Pantone-free. Using a clean color values system, we can deliver you CMYK and RGB colors that you can use anywhere, and they will be as consistent as possible. No paywall required.
Finally, most of our branding projects include templates for reproducing branded designs. This can be anything from business cards, to social media posts, and much more. We typically like to use a tool called Canva to share these templates with our clients. With it, we can share working, editable templates with our clients, without them needing a costly subscription to Adobe software to use them.
As you can see, our clients benefit greatly from our democratization of branding. It allows them to 1) follow the guidelines in their brand guide; 2) freely use their logos, fonts, and colors on their own computers; and 3) continue to build and expand their brand collateral at their discretion. Gone are the days of needing to reach out to their designer every time they need a file, or can’t remember what colors or fonts to use, or worse, needing to pay an exorbitant fee just to make small changes to the designs they have already paid for. Power to the people.
P.S. Don’t want to take the reins on your branding? We’ll always be here to help you out. Contact us today.