Is it possible to define rules for a creative and versatile brand design?
10 years ago, traditional brand guidelines were set up to define all possible uses of a visual identity. It was somehow a way to avoid any kind of self-interpretation and freedom of the designer. Of course, you have to define basic elements and they are always dependent on the structure of the brand and how far you have to go. However, the trend is away from too small-minded and restrictive applications. A brand must be able to breathe and evolve within its identity.
That’s why nowadays we more and more talk about a brand book instead of brand guidelines (charte graphique). We move away from millimetre-accurate applications and create more space for the values and the brand’s philosophy.
This allows the designer to immerse himself in the world of the brand’s identity and feel the emotions, in both a visual and a narrative way. While expressive images convey the brand’s values, small quotes and words tell the story of the brand and explain in a direct way what it is all about. Typography, colours and iconography still define the basic style. So, everything a designer develops for the brand has to respect the basics but must also be in line with the philosophical identity.
The other important part stays in resuming all necessary technical information: the logo, font family, colour codes and so on. But even here, not everything is as it was 10 years ago. The digital world alone opens up so many new approaches to us. In the past for example, the colour palette was worked out only with printing colours (cmyk, Panton, RAL etc). Screen colours (rgb) were rather secondary and were simply derived from the printing colours. Today, for example, one should valorise the special properties of both methods and define a complementary colour palette. And the many different digital media force us to break new ground. Every type of communication must be adapted to these new channels in order to stand out from a very variable mass. The brand book should therefore enable a polyvalent design.
What was unthinkable years ago is now almost a must. The logo of a brand was inviolable and was usually only allowed to be used in a single colour. Today a brand has to adapt to the circumstances and therefore the colour spectrum gets a much higher value. Depending on the media and the target, the design must be easily adaptable and guarantee a certain freedom of spirit.
So yes, we still have to define brand guidelines but without getting lost in small adjustments. The focus is on the overall visual and narrative vision to feel a uniform and coherent design of a brand. We need an adaptable approach.
This different vision affects the reflections to be made when creating a brand identity. An interesting topic that needs to be developed so stay tuned.