Unfamiliar with what a logo guidelines document is (also referred to as a style guide) — you’re not alone… here’s the quick breakdown of what a logo design guideline document is.

The What

If you look to big brands like Starbucks, Target, Amazon, Apple etc, they typically have a how-to usage document that basically lays out rules letting users of the logo (typically designers and marketing agencies) how the logo should be implemented properly. This is done for consistency purposes. You don’t want your logo to be used incorrectly or modified in any way which ultimately ensures it to be seen as it was always meant to be seen — one way. This helps for a cohesive brand identity across everything your logo touches from social media, to billboards to magazine ads to trade show backdrops, the web — you name it.

Brand guidelines also outline the specific brand color codes used within the logo (sometimes any secondary complimentary colors to use when creating design projects) the typography styles and sizes used within the logo and also additional fonts that might compliment it when used in print or web projects. We’ve even seen some style guides that incorporate what type of imagery should be utilized when creating ads or for website work.

Below are several typical logo design guidelines (in no particular order) and why they are important:

Color

The colors established in your logo are key to maintain and spell out for those that use it once it’s completed. You’ll usually be provided with a few different types of color sets.

Pantone
Pantone colors which are when you print anything professionally from business cards to ads. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is an industry standard color swatch company that provides specific color formulas printers must use to have your color look the same every time.

Hex
Hex colors (they have nothing to do with witchcraft I assure you) are colors used for the web exclusively. Your Pantone colors have different color conversions for the web that start with a # and usually have a short series of numbers or letters ie #4ab23F (if you were wondering that hex humber is a close to a Kelly green).

CMYK
CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow Black. These are colors that when used in specific percentage amounts can simulate Pantones closely BUT are not spot on. They will get you in the ballpark when color isn’t a huge priority in certain instances and are often used to cut costs a bit in the printing process. For instance that Kelly Green above in CMYK would be C=72% M=3% Y=100% K=0%

RGB
RGB stand for Red Green Blue. When you’re working on digital artwork that isn’t meant to be printed, dealing within the RGB colorspace is the better way to go. RGB colors are shown as three different values. For instance that Kelly Green above in RGB would be R=74 G=178 B=63

Spacing

Indicating the spacing that must be maintained around the logo from other objects, graphics, images, other logos, text etc is very important. This helps to not overcrowd or encroach on the logo. This spacing varies for each logo and your logo designer will provide the proper spacing spec within your logo guidelines document.

Tweaking

Typically several visuals of your logo are presented showing how NOT to alter the logo. This can include stretching, resizing the icon, repositioning the logo or type, recoloring the logo, using different typography, rotating the logo at a different angle etc. It’s basically a hard visual of how abusing your identity’s aesthetic is not something that should be done.

Full Color vs. Reversed

Your logo at some point will need to be on a dark background or a background with colors that may be similar to your own logo colors. This is why it’s important to outline how your logo should look reversed out on say a completely back background vs how it might look on a similar contrasting background as your logo colors vs full color on a white or lighter background. By including these version variations in your logo design guidelines it will help designers know your exact intentions for your logo within each of those scenarios.

Do You Need Logo Guidelines?

Most large companies say absolutely where smaller companies or entrepreneurs are either on the fence or say no.

Having logo design guidelines in place can be just as important as trademarking your logo and it also protects your brand from abuse. If you are a smaller company on the fence or don’t think your logo needs a logo guidelines we’d encourage you to rethink the importance of this document. It’s just as important as copywriting the content you own.

If you need professional logo design or a logo makeover or update, check out Effusion Creative’s brand and company logo design services.