You may believe that I’m biased as a designer, but this is truly a question worth exploring. I’ve come up with a list of pros and cons for you:
1. Consistency in Brand Appearance
Design guides ensure that no one will be warping your logo and creating content that doesn’t match your overall look and aesthetic.
2. Everyone is on the Same Page
With design guides becoming even more definitive in terms of style and voice, your brand has never been clearer. Any new employee or outsider can come in, pick up your design guide, and know exactly you who are and what you represent.
3. No More Re-Inventing the Wheel
A well-crafted design guide can take the guess work out of design. You know exactly which typefaces and which color swatches to use so your branding looks consistent.
4. It's a Living Document
You can always change it. I’ve seen design guides that highlight video practices, trade show booths, sales pitches, etc. The ability to add or alter your existing design guide just further hones in on your company’s overall presentation.
1. Leaves Little to the Imagination
My number one gripe about design guides is that a lot of times companies will get in their own way when it comes to content. Someone in the organization will have a cool idea for a marketing initiative but they are unable to follow through on it because it isn’t represented in the design guide. They fail to realize they have the power to either alter the guide or make an exception.
I have to be honest 70% of the design guides I’ve seen are boring. They have two colors, one logo alteration and a single font. This makes creative endeavors even more difficult. You have to give your marketing and design team room to explore your brand, not box them in right off the bat.
3. Lots of Approvals
It usually takes many layers of employees to get final approval to alter the design guide and by that time you’ve lost your motivation that caused you to want to change it in the first place.
Design Guides are essential in branding. They are able to put your entire aesthetic on paper and highlight who your business is and why it exists. These design guides pave the way for your ultimate customer perception and experience. Your audience can recognize your shade of blue, the icon in the corner of the screen or the typeface in your logo. If you’re constantly changing look and feel, your customers will get lost in the thousands of other brands they’re inundated with every day.
Have fun with it. Never design yourself into a corner. Explore different avenues for using your branding elements. Maybe a cool shirt design or a retro looking logo on some marketing materials can revitalize your customer’s interest in your business. You can even put what exceptions you’re willing to make in your design guide.
In need of a design guide or have questions about this article? As always, we at Half and Half are here for you. Contact us here if you have a design project in mind or just need to bounce some ideas off of someone, we’re available!