Championing the brand
Creating guidelines for a brand can be a minefield. Make them too flexible, and people won't have enough guidance to maintain consistency, but make them too prescriptive and people will simply ignore them or even go out of their way to break the rules and leave their own mark.
But as there’s so much that can go wrong with actually applying an identity across different formats and media, how do your brand guidelines maintain a consistent look and feel to your valuable brand?
We believe that creating a range of tools that helps people understand and apply a brand, rather than just a set of rules that must be obeyed, can save a lot of heartache. Basic things like helping people to understand how they should apply a logo, and how to use colour consistently, right down to showing them what type of photography to use and how to create a ‘tone of voice’ for copy, can really help to create a set of brand guidelines that maintain the integrity and consistency of your brand.
HOW WE DID IT:
Lafarge are one of the world's largest providers of building materials, supplying to over 78 countries. They already had an existing identity, and a structure for how it should be used on signage and stationery etc., but we were approached by the UK Aggregates division to establish and maintain a set of brand guidelines for them that would give a distinctive style to the UK arm, and specifically deliver a consistent style across their communications.
One of the key challenges was the sheer range of activities Lafarge were concerned with, and we tackled this head-on by creating a coloured band that would feature on all literature, but which would change in colour for each group of activities. This gave the overall range of literature a distinct style that united the group, whilst also helping customers and staff alike differentiate each separate discipline.
These strips were generated as artwork elements of the identity, and treated in the same way as logos. Each was created large enough to accomodate any width of cover, exhibition or advert, and were designed to be used either against a black background for some corporate communications, or against a white cover for general or product communications.
We combined these strips with a strong use of photography, with a flexible approach that allowed strong single images to be used as the top half of a cover, but also allowed for multiple images to be used against the coloured strip where more complex services required more than one image.
To accomodate this and to maintain consistency, we created a series of grids for use when designing cover and text pages on brochures and other literature. Designed to offer a simple and flexible structure for information, these grids helped the designers cope with a broad range of demands from the different parts of the business.
Having experienced the discomfort of working with other people's too-rigid brand guidelines in the past, we were determined that our's would not become a straight jacket. At every turn, therefore, our focus was to create a structured and effective range of practical tools within the brand guidelines that would help focus and express the brand - rather than rigid rules that would inhibit and restrict it.