Branding Guidelines – Great Examples and Why You Need Them

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All the large companies and organisations have clear branding guidelines. You may think this is not a necessary step for your own brand, but as we will discuss in this article, there are reasons why you should have them – if you are building a brand that is likely to be featured on other sites, it is important to get your branding guidelines in place and make them as clear and precise as possible. One of the most important aspects of branding guidelines is the things you don’t want people to do to or with your logo or brand name. Here we are bringing to your attention the branding guidelines of some of the bigger internet brands who make it perfectly clear how they don’t want their logo and/or name to be used on other sites.

Branding Guidelines

Branding kits usually consist of some or all of the following:

  • A selection of logo downloads in different formats and different styles
  • One or two CTA buttons
  • The official colors given in one or two values, usually including the hex value
  • The font used, unless it is a unique font created specifically for the brand
  • A list of correct use of the logo/name and a list of incorrect use of the logo/name
  • In some situations naming guidelines are also required

Why Have Branding Guidelines?

Branding guidelines are needed to keep the brand in line and consistent throughout the internet and other media as far as possible. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have to be somewhat lenient on their guidelines as many icons in use do not conform – but for these organisations it is better to have them than to demand they conform! Other brands can be stricter with their rules of use.

You may think that after all the hard work is put in to creating a logo, it is not to be ‘given away’ – but it is more important to be recognized than to be precious about your designs. The same goes for the colors used – it is better to publish the exact colors used rather than leaving people to try to color-match them… after all, each shade and brush stroke had taken blood, sweat and tears to get right – you don’t want someone to come along and reproduce your efforts incorrectly!

Showcase of Branding Guidelines

Here we are showcasing some branding guidelines that are in use by some of the better-known sites.

WordPress

WordPress is a big brand and its logo is used all over the net, therefore, it is important they offer a selection of logos and the official colors, and they do this in a minimal, simplified way, making it very easy to comply with their rules.

The page begins with outlining how to spot a fake WP logo, compared with the real thing.

They then have a selection of no less than 16 logos for download for various uses and devices and available in a selection of formats.

Following this are the 3 official WordPress colors, blue, orange and gray, given in Pantone, CMYK, Hex and RGB values.

Finally, they state that ‘The WordPress logotype is set in Mrs. Eaves, licensed by Emigre.’

Very leniently, they also have a page dedicated to ‘WordPress Fan Art’, with their logo used in tattoos, designs, etc.

WordPress

Twitter

The Twitter Brand Assets page offers the download of 4 styles of Twitter logo. They also (perhaps rather hopefully) suggest the amount of space that should be left around the logo.

Then come the usage guidelines – Twitter do not have a list of how to correctly use the logo, but a rather long list of how not to use it:

  • Don’t:
    • Use speech bubbles or words around the logo
    • Rotate or change the direction of the logo
    • Animate the logo
    • Surround the logo with other birds or creatures
    • Change the color of the logo
    • Anthropomorphize the logo
    • Add special effects to the logo
    • Use older versions of the logo, previous logos, or any marks that may be confused with the brand

As mentioned above, these ‘don’ts’ are really not adhered to as there are many hand-drawn icons, etc that don’t conform.

Twitter have 6 official colors and they give their values in hex, CMYK and RGB.

They declare the font used is Gotham Narrow.

The following section is dedicated to how to align the logo with @… and #…, and the amount of space that should be left around it – again, perhaps a bit wistful!

Further down the page, Twitter offer links to both ‘Follow’ buttons and ‘Tweet’ buttons where you will find the HTML to be inserted into your page/s.

Twitter

Pinterest

The use of Pinterest has gathered speed at a remarkable rate, so their branding guidelines are of great importance to them.

They offer downloads of their logo, badges and the ‘Pin It’ script. They don’t, however, show the colors, but they would not expect you to alter the colors from the downloads, and since they only use the one red color it probably isn’t necessary.

Quite unusually, the Pinterest list of ‘dos’ is longer than their list of ‘don’ts':

  • Do:
    • Use these marks in a readable size
    • Maintain empty space equal to at least half the height of the logo on all sides
    • Keep them straight and free of filters and effects
    • Use the red logo on light backgrounds
    • Use the white logo on dark backgrounds
  • Don’t:
    • Rotate these marks
    • Alter their proportions or colours
    • Obstruct them
    • Add extraneous effects

There are further guidelines on:

  • Promotions and marketing with lists of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’
  • Words and phrases
  • Naming services and apps with a list of ‘don’ts’
  • Visuals with a list of ‘don’ts’
  • Merchandise

Pinterest

Facebook

Facebook-related icons must be about the most used on the internet these days – therefore, Facebook offer a lot of brand assets for use.

They start off by offering a selection of logos and badges in different resolutions, clicking on each type of logo/badge drops down a panel where you choose which media you want it for, gives a link to the guidelines page – they have a separate page for each type of logo/badge – and gives the download link.

Next is a selection of screenshots available in different formats (.psd, .png, .ai) and for different devices.

Following that, you can download the Identity Guide in .pdf format showing how to use the screenshots.

‘Using Facebook in your Broadcast’ is another .pdf of guidelines.

‘Talking About Facebook’ is the next section that has a couple of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts':

  • Do:
    • Capitalize the word “Facebook”, except when it’s part of a web address
    • Display the word “Facebook” in the same font size and style as the content surrounding it
  • Don’t:
    • Use the Facebook logo in place of the word “Facebook”
    • Pluralize the Facebook trademark, use it as a verb or abbreviate it

They also have a page of Branding Guidelines for developers.

Facebook

Instagram

Instagram don’t exactly have brand guidelines, but they have an amazing amount of brand assets – 23 file downloads in the following categories, located at the bottom of the Press page:

  • Search and Explore Brand Assets
  • IG Web Brand Assets
  • Lark Reyes Juno Filter Launch
  • Fade and Color Brand Assets
  • IG Layout Brand Assets
  • IG Filters Update
  • Instagram Discovery Caption Editing
  • Hyperlapse Assets
  • Instagram 6 (press)
  • Android 5.1 Redesign
  • Instagram Direct B-Roll
  • Instagram Direct Screenshots
  • Instagram Sponsored Photos and Videos
  • Straightener (press)
  • Instagram Icon Large
  • Instagram Screenshots
  • Instagram Video Demo
  • Instagram Video Press Assets
  • Instagram Phone
  • Instagram Rainbow Banner

Instagram fall short on their brand guidelines – their brand has become big business on the internet and on smartphones so they should have a more detailed list of guidelines, especially for developers.

Instagram

Hootsuite

Hootsuite have placed their branding guidelines on their media kit page, with dropdown boxes that reveal the information.

Their first piece of information is how to correctly write their name.

Then they offer 2 variations of their logo, for light and dark backgrounds. They are available in .eps and .png formats. There is also a .pdf download of their guidelines – this is a very comprehensive document with a lot of information, including how to use the logo and the amount of space they would like you to leave around it, the minimum size of the logo (they have no maximum size!), the color palette, the font (Open Sans).

They have a ‘Respect our logo’ section that gives a list of ‘don’ts’ with illustrations:

  • Don’t:
    • Alter the color of the logo
    • Distort the logo, always scale the logo proportionally
    • Alter the color of the descriptor name
    • Create an outline of the logo
    • Place the logo in a box
    • Alter the color of the icon, not even the eyes of the owl
    • Place the logo on a busy background

They also ask you to respect their mascot ‘Owly':

  • Don’t:
    • Add your own elements to Owly
    • Flip Owly. He looks really weird that way
    • Add Owly to illustrations or photos
    • Use the Owl icon in the place of the mascot

Back to the web page, the final section lists the official colors in hex values. They also offer the swatch downloads for Photoshop and Illustrator. This section also has links to the Open Sans and Roboto Slab fonts on Google Fonts.

Hootsuite

Slack

Slack is very much the ‘new kid on the block’, however, they have comprehensive branding assets in place.

They offer a download including 5 versions of their logo.

Then come their ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ – not many ‘do’s’ as usual, here is the list of things they would prefer you not to do with their logo:

  • Don’t:
    • Use any logos or similar imagery to represent Slack other than what is found in the Slack Brandfolder
    • Rotate the hash mark or alter its positioning in relation to the Slack name
    • Change the colors on the hash logo
    • Overprint or obstruct any part of the logo
    • Add special effects to the logo
    • Use old versions or any other marks or logos to represent our brand

The following sections of their brand guidelines are: Visual design of your website or application, Naming, Merchandise and General Info.

Slack

Vimeo

Vimeo’s Brand Guidelines start off with a tagline that states very nicely what I pointed out early in this article:

We love our brand and care a lot about how it appears in the world. Here are some guidelines so you don’t abuse this priceless masterpiece that we’ve taken so much care in creating.

They don’t have a list of dos and don’ts – they do however, have a list they call ‘Important Stuff To Keep In Mind’.

  1. When making a reference to Vimeo, your reference must be truthful, and not suggestive of anything other than the truth, and you cannot imply that you are affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Vimeo. Thanks.
  2. “Vimeo” is our proper name when written in text and should be capitalized as such. Capital V, lowercase other letters. “Vimeo On Demand” is three words, all capitalized.
  3. When making a textual reference to Vimeo, please do not link to anything except vimeo.comor vimeo.com/ondemand.
  4. When using our logos and icons, you can’t just do whatever ridiculous things you want with them. Please observe the guidelines below.

A bunch of logo downloads follows – and they have a remarkably large amount of them!

Following that is the correct colors given in RGB, Hex and Pantone values, also they define the correct spacing for their logo and their icon, and they have a showcase of incorrect use of the logo and icon also.

I found Vimeo’s guidelines are presented in a relatively ‘friendly’ tone, and they have not asked you to use or not use the logo and icon in any way that they haven’t justified their reasons for doing so.

Vimeo

Disqus

I have included the Disqus branding guidelines as they have injected humor into the page. The page starts with the logo and icon downloads, how to correctly pronounce the word Disqus, and how to use the logos.

They then have a list entitled ‘Please Don’t…’ – and they obviously only really had 3 things they don’t want you to do, so they have made 2 up… which I am sure they also don’t really want you to do, but I don’t think they needed to ask you not to!!

  • Use our logo with colors other than #2e9fff or PMS 2995 U
  • Alter the shape of our logos
  • Include the Disqus logo on physical merchandise
  • Confuse our name with an Olympic sport
  • Shave the logo into a pet or other animal

Disqus

Uber

Uber have made their brand guidelines into a work of art – there has been a lot of effort put into producing this guide.

Their opening statement is:

The Uber brand is more than a name. It’s a set of values, attributes, and artwork that reflects the spirit of our company Using it consistently will reinforce our passion and commitment to providing a world class experience

Note: Please don’t point out the grammatical errors in that statement on this post.. it is copied word-for-word!

When you click on the ‘Explore the guide’ button, you are presented with a list of categories, the first of which is Logotype.

On the Logotype page, you will find a ‘download assets’ button, followed by usage rules –

  • The wordmark should not be paired with the badge.
  • The logotype should always contrast with the background. There are 4 versions of the logotype to ensure legibility and optimum reproduction quality in all printing processes and digital needs.
    • Full color – The full color – positive logotype is the preferred version and should be used wherever possible.
    • Monochrome – When there is a limited number of colors available for reproduction, or the quality of colors is questionable, choose the monochrome version. Only black and white should be used.
  • The clear space around the logotype on all sides should be equal to the height of the letters for maximum legibility and impact.
  • To preserve legibility, the logotype should never be printed smaller then .75” and should never appear at less than 75 pixels in digital formats.
  • In some languages the logotype will require a different visual treatment.
  • The logotype cannot be altered or redrawn in any other way.

The next category is Design System, and in this section they outline their color palette.

  • Uber Black (100) and Uber White (100) are the primary brand colors.
  • The secondary UI colors are reserved for status notifications and certain buttons
  • Uber Black is our most frequently used brand color. The dark hue makes lighter type easy to read.

The next section is Typography.

  • Uber’s primary typeface is Clan Pro. It should be used every time it is available.

The final section is Video, as above with just one request:

  • Use the animated Uber logo at the end of a video. Do not combine any CTAs or tagline with this animation.

There is no doubt that Uber have really worked hard on both the content and the presentation of their brand guidelines, and that they want to preserve the presentation of their logo as far as is possible. The numerous pages that make up their branding guidelines should be an inspiration to everyone – it is an outstanding example.

Uber

We found a few more good branding guidelines, and list them here if you need more inspiration:

Conclusion

This list should be enough to get you inspired to create your own brand guidelines, and should also prove that you do actually need them. You may think that many of the organisations, companies, businesses, etc listed above are unlikely to have their brand reproduced – but you would be surprised – there are many instances when such logos are used – on blog articles for example. It is no good waiting for your brand to grow before producing guidelines – you need them in place so it doesn’t run away with you as it grows… and after all, we are all here for our brand to grow in the first place!

Do you have some great, inspiring brand guidelines on your site, or have you come across some that haven’t made it into this list? Please share your links with us in the section below.

And don’t forget to bookmark this article – there are a lot of useful links to branding guideline pages you may need from time to time!

Banner image credit: JAY MANTRI

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