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Getting In Style: The Technology of Branding

by Maggie Ruch, Virtual Assistant

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, a great resource to have on hand is a brand style guide. This guide will give specifics about things like the appearance of the logo, and copyrights in place on the name or logo for the business, the exact colors to use (PMS or CMYK, RGB and HEX colors) and the font/s used in both the logo and on printed material. It’s a good idea to refer to this style guide for any project. These details may be subtle, but creating consistency builds trust and having a relationship of trust with a client is a relationship that you can’t put a price on.

So where do you get these details and how do you ensure that they are being implemented?

Let’s start with the logo. The graphic designer who created your logo should be able to give you the specific color codes. Many graphics people only work with CMYK colors. There are a few websites that provide conversion charts for these codes. One that I use is the RGB color calculator at http://drpeterjones.com/colorcalc/ . This calculator also matches CMYK and HEX (web) color codes. Another way for you to get the color codes from your logo is to sample the color with a photo retouching software like Photoshop. While logos that have shading and 3d effects might have spots where the color varies, you can view the color you are sampling and test a few spots on the logo before deciding on a code.  Record the color codes and make sure that they become a part of the brand style guide.

Fonts. Most logos are designed with fonts that are not commonly used online or in print. They are usually custom or special font sets that designers use. You really don’t need to worry about matching these fonts, but the fonts used in print and on your website should have a particular style. The main fonts to point out here are your headings and articles. Headings are typically a serif font and body fonts are typically sans serif. This has changed in the past few years, where before serif fonts were used for the text and sans serif for headings. Whatever your preference, make sure that the font set is identified clearly in your style guide. Including samples is helpful.

For information on copyrights trademarks, or patents, consult your copyright attorney. They will have the necessary documentation for your claim and most certificates include a written description of the mark if the appearance is part of the mark. Include this description when possible.

Consult the person who does your website as well as the person who does your print materials and ask them to review the style guide and make changes where appropriate. Use your judgment. If there are great reasons (other than for your logo) for using another font set or color combination, then give it some thought. Sometimes it helps to see two proofs side-by-side to see the difference that simple changes can make, like color choices and font consistency.

Even small businesses can benefit from having a style guide. So what if you are the only person with a copy? Your goal is to grow, and as you grow you will have one of the tools in place to ensure that your brand is carried out from start to finish. An electronic copy can be sent to anyone to whom you outsource a project and can be a valuable timesaver  for your business.

Maggie Ruch is a Virtual Assistant who specializes in assisting entrepreneurs who have an online presence with website and blog design, social media, and brand management. For over 4 years she has partnered with successful coaches and consultants as an integral part of building their businesses. Her website, virtualwebsiteassistant.com showcases examples of her website and fan page design. Visit her site to view testimonials from happy customers. Sign up here for her free course and ebook on branding.

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