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Mar 25
The 8 essentials to include in your company's brand guide

Does your company need a brand guide? The short answer is yes. Brand guidelines are essential for establishing and maintaining consistency across all of your brand communications and touchpoints. Everyone involved in brand building, from designers to CEOs, will be glad you have one.

But just having a guide isn’t enough – you need to make sure it is complete so anyone using your brand can start creating a consistent look.

Here is a handy list of the 8 essential things you should include in your brand guide. This will not only help designers and marketers, but anyone creating content for your company.

1. Mission Statement

No matter the size of your company, a mission statement can help define your goals and what your brand stands for. Having a strong, clear mission statement will help guide you through creating the rest of your brand.

Example mission statements

Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.

LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life.

2. Logo

This may seem obvious, but every set of brand guidelines should have logo standards. Rules need to be established not only for what is acceptable usage, but also what is unacceptable. It helps to include examples of both usage types to avoid any misinterpretations or confusion. Comprehensive guidelines for logo usage should include rules for placement, clear space, shape and proportion, size, and color.

3. Color Palette

One of the most common mistakes with color palettes is not providing the color breakdowns for both RGB (digital) and CMYK (print). Too often we see brand guidelines come through that only include one or the other. Print may not be as popular as it used to be, but every brand still needs to define its colors. You definitely don’t want to be using RGB colors for print or vice versa, as they will always come out looking different.

4. Typography

Font choices define your brand just as much as a logo or color palette. Think about your brand and choose a set of fonts that represents your brand personality. How do you know which fonts to choose? Increasingly, brand professionals are looking to theories of font psychology to determine how typeface choices affect a user’s perception of a brand. This can help you to decide which fonts are appropriate for your brand.

Is it okay to have more than one approved font? Yes. Some brands have two or three. If that’s the case, give specific rules and always show examples of how they should be used. For example, a headline font vs. body copy font. For extra points, you can even include a web safe font that can be used in digital formats when the branded font is unavailable, such as with HTML emails, websites, PowerPoints, etc.

5. Photography Style

With millions of stock images at our fingertips, it’s easy for people to choose photos that are not consistent with your brand. To minimize that risk, your guide should include some examples of the style of images that support your brand and get the right message across. Not sure what style you like or where to start? Digital Trends posted an excellent article about emerging trends in photography.

6. Iconography

Icons can be an important part of a brand’s visual identity, yet these are often overlooked with creating brand standards. Icons can add visual interest to a design and are a great way to illustrate complex concepts. But, similar to photography, there are many different styles of icons that usually fall within four main categories: outline, colored, flat and glyph. To ensure consistency of style and usage of icons, include specific examples and rules in your guide.

7. Tone of Voice

The style and tone of the written word can also be an important element of your brand. Here, too, it’s good idea to provide some guidance on your brand voice. Should it be confident and authoritative…or warm and nurturing? Much will depend on your business and the context in which you communicate with various audiences. Creating some basic guidelines and illustrating them with brief written examples (including examples of how not to sound) will help reinforce a consistent tone across all of your communications.

8. Templates & Examples

It’s always a good idea to include predesigned templates with a branding guide. Not only will this help keep people within the established rules, but it will also serve as a visual example of how the guide is interpreted. Here is a quick list of design templates every brand should have:

  • Reports (digital and print)
  • Email
  • Word document
  • PowerPoint presentation

Extra credit if you include examples of social media images, advertisements, exhibit booths and banners. The more examples you provide, the better established your brand’s visual design will be.

If you need help creating a new brand, refreshing an old one, or if you just feel that your current branding guidelines are insufficient, we can help! Contact us today to get started.

Topics: Business Management Tags: branding
Apr 01
April 2020 Calendar

With a nod to April showers, this month's calendar features an array of paper parasols being lifted to new heights! This month's designer, Jonathan Cleveland, says "The wind and rain of April can become dreary so I thought it would be fun to liven it up a bit and have the colorful parasols flying through the air against a backdrop of wind clouds represented in an Asian style."

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Mar 01
March 2020 Calendar

Our March calendar features a dreamy image of magically floating in the light of an enormous moon. The moonlit visual is appropriate as we will be experiencing 2020's first supermoon on the 9th. Although ‘supermoon,' when the moon's orbit is at its closest point to Earth, is not an official astronomical term, it does conjure an image we all can relate to. Coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, even he couldn't have predicted how the term would be embraced. Much like Richard's naming of this lunar event, it is important to consider how we choose to communicate events and information to our audiences. Well considered words and images are powerful tools to bring your brand to life.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Feb 01
February 2020 Calendar

Our February calendar features one of Winter’s prized creations, the snowman. The making of a snowman, like any creative endeavor, takes planning and the right conditions. There is the anticipation of that ‘perfect snow,’ one that allows you to start with a small ball that will grow and grow as you push it and mold it into your greatest masterpiece!

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Jan 29
2020 Tokyo Olympics

The official posters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have debuted. This exciting and diverse collection was created by fine artists, graphic designers, calligraphers, and photographers from Japan and beyond. There are 20 posters, including 12 representing the Olympics, and 8 representing the Paralympics.

Since 1912, when the first Olympic poster was created for Sweden, the Olympic Games have used official posters to promote and showcase to the world the special features of each quadrennial event.

I asked each member of the team at Cleveland Design to choose their favorite and write why they loved it. For me, it was a tough choice. The passion and creativity in each poster is abundant, and each speaks to a different perspective that collectively makes a single statement.

Below are our thoughts on the poster we each loved best.

Jonathan Cleveland

Horseback Archery, by painter Akira Yamaguchi

At first, I was drawn to the posters created by graphic artists, which of course would probably be expected of me. The ethereal yet incredibly powerful nature of the scenario presented here brings the representation of the Paralympics to a fulfilling level that I can’t unsee. At first view, it has a yamato-e (traditional Japanese painting) style to it with a twist of contemporary Samurai warrior. The muted tones of color are in stark contrast to the energy that the artist conveys. It has at once a traditional Japanese artistic style and a bold stamp of pop culture—and it’s just a beautiful piece of fine art. The determination and grit of the warrior Olympian just makes me want to cheer for a gold medal for all the competitors!

Jenny Daughters

Fly High!, By Shoko Kanazawa

I find this poster’s simplicity and elegance striking. I love its nod to Japanese tradition, yet it remains wholly contemporary. While it uses none of the typical iconography associated with the games (the rings, the torch, etc.) the dynamism in the calligraphy captures the energy and grace of the athletes so vividly. The gold foil background, which references the tradition of screen paintings, illuminates the characters and adds depth to the image. And the meaning of the characters—“Fly High”—seals the message like a one-two punch.

Diana Morales

The Sky above The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa, By Hirohiko Araki

There are so many things I love about this poster—the art style, use of color, the history, its unique composition and the artist’s immense attention to detail. But my favorite part has to be how he lifted inspiration from Katsushika Hokusai's classic print, Under the Wave of Kanagawa. The wave is drawn beautifully and the way it flows seamlessly into the clouds is flawless. He took a piece of art from almost two centuries ago and made it relevant in today’s modern world. I love the cotton-candy pink against the flat indigo background. The athletes running through the clouds, high above the rest of the world, really captures the intensity and determination of the world’s top athletes. I could stare at this piece for hours and still see new details I had missed before. It really is a beautiful piece of art.

Lynn McNamee

PARALYMPIAN, By Goo Choki Par

The fractal nature of PARALYMPIAN’s elements drew my attention to this poster. Its kinetic energy with the pieces wanting to burst out, but somehow staying together in their forward motion, is inspiring. This is how I imagine an elite athlete must feel just prior to leaving the starting line. I also appreciate how fitting it is as a representation of a Paralympian with its seemingly broken pieces coming together to achieve power.

Andy Paul

Now it's your turn!, By Naoki Urasawa

As a fan of Japanese manga and graphic novels in general, I was immediately drawn to the stark drama of this poster. Devoid of color, it is packed with emotion. In a few frames, it captures simply and powerfully the focus, determination, and inner strength that are essential traits of every Olympic and Paralympic athlete. I can’t read the Japanese characters, but that’s not necessary; the personal story of an athlete in the tense seconds prior to competing with the world’s best is clear. It’s our turn—let’s go!


We would love to hear which posters you love! View all of the posters here.

Topics: Just for Fun Tags: poster
Jan 01
January 2020 Calendar

Snow is diamonds for a faery's feet;
Blithely and bonnily she trips along,
Her lips a-carol with a merry song,
And in her eyes the meaning... Life is sweet!
― Ruby Archer

Just like that, 2020 is upon us and we kick off our calendar series with a sparkling sky and playful poem. The first month of the year allows us all a chance for fresh beginnings and perspectives.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Dec 01
December 2019 Calendar

Saying goodnight to 2019, our December calendar features a sweet critter in an envious state of hibernation, which many of us may not have much of this holiday season. Between decking the halls, being the life of the party, and embracing family gatherings, we at Cleveland wish you and yours memorable moments of peace and joy.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendars
Nov 01
November 2019 Calendar

The ancient art of embroidery, with origins dating back to 30,000 BC, was the inspiration for the art style of this November's calendar. Early man fashioned needles of ivory and bone, thread from plant fiber. Through thousands of years, embroidery has been a beautiful, and intricate form of art infused with the culture of its time. We find the attention to detail and workmanship needed for this delicate art motivational, as we strive for those same qualities in all of our designs.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendars
Oct 01
October 2019 Calendar

October is upon us, and with it comes shorter days and cooler nights. Plants and wildlife are starting to prepare for the winter ahead. Our calendar this month features a few of our favorite players – acorns and squirrels. These two have the ultimate partnership. The mighty oak grows up to 2,000 acorns per tree, per year, in an attempt to create more oaks (only one in 10,000 acorns will actually become a tree). The squirrels do most of the heavy lifting by gathering and burying them. The little bushy tailed critters will even take the cap off and eat only half of the acorn nut before reburying it. Thus, leaving the part in the shell that gives the oak tree a fighting chance of growing.

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Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar
Sep 01
September 2019 Calendar

This evocative line, so fitting for our September calendar design, is from the verse, "Dream tonight of peacock tails, / Diamond fields and spouter whales. / Ills are many, blessings few, / But dreams tonight will shelter you." But to whom should we attribute these lines? Some sources say Herman Melville, of Moby Dick fame. Others point to 20th century American novelist Thomas Pynchon. But who really penned these words? Reliable answers are elusive. It’s not just a literary gordian knot, but a dramatic illustration of a crucial business truth: the importance of protecting your brand.

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View our Installation Guide for instructions on how to set this month's artwork as your background wallpaper.
Topics: Just for Fun Tags: calendar

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