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Ch 11: Publishing the Brand Standards Manual

When you publish your brand standards manual, think big. Consider all possible ways of making your guidelines and supporting materials available to all who might possibly need these materials.

As Alina Wheeler states, “Brand strategy can’t influence anyone if it stays in a conference room, in someone’s head, or on page 3 of a marketing plan… and the meaning of a brand [needs] a communication vehicle that is accessible, portable, and personal.” (Designing Brand Identity, 182)

First, think about who needs to know and apply the brand standards:

  • owners, executives, and managers
  • other organization members (employees and/or volunteers)
  • anyone who gives a presentation on behalf of the organization
  • sales representatives
  • franchisers
  • agencies, contractors, vendors, and freelancers who design and/or manufacture organizational products or materials
  • media representatives (mainstream and alternative)
  • customers (for instance, if your company conducted a “make a Super Bowl commercial” contest that was open to the public, wouldn’t you want an accurate company logo to be used in each entry?)

Then, consider which publishing and distribution methods best support your organizational needs:

  • bound book
  • 3-ring binder or other hard copy that is easy to update
  • website (public or password-protected) containing templates, image libraries, reproducible files (in various formats, resolutions, etc.) color swatches, glossaries, etc. [maybe add details about file formats– see Wheeler p. 191]
  • media kit and/or media web portal
  • CD/DVD/flash drive

Also consider carefully if the brand standards materials will be used by people outside the U.S. If so, be sure you address those non-U.S. standards thoroughly and accurately. (If you are not already familiar with non-U.S. measurements and other standards, you should seek assistance from an expert.)

For digital materials (files and images that will be downloaded from a website or distributed on media like DVDs), establish a system for organizing materials and naming files that will be easy to understand.

For files that will be used for color reproduction of your brand identity materials, take time to provide the highest quality file in the correct color mode (RGB, CMYK, etc.). Simply changing a logo file from CMYK to RGB can create unexpected results, such as incorrect color translation when the logo is reproduced.

To ensure that the files are usable in a variety of computer systems and applications:

  • keep file names small (15 or fewer characters)
  • end every file name with a period and standard file format extension (such as .ai, .jpg, .gif, .docx, .htm, .html)
  • use lower-case letters only, along with the underscore _ character
  • don’t use spaces or symbols such as / : ? * < >
  • don’t use periods except in front of the extension

Finally, be sure all brand standards materials are reviewed by appropriate specialists (like proofreaders, editors, and other “quality control” experts) and by authorities (managers, attorneys, executives, owners, etc.) before anything is distributed.

The final steps that lead to publishing of your brand standards manual are just as important as the rest of your work. Regardless of the publishing method,this is definitely not the time to rush or take shortcuts. Your reputation and your client’s reputation depend on the care and concern you put into these publishing processes.

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