This is heading directly into geek territory. But we are self-confessed geeks, particularly when it comes to logo design, typography and pictograms. And that leads us to the meticulously regulated world of brand style manuals...
A style manual, or style guide, is a set of standards for the design of documents, signage, and any other form of other brand identifier. The reason for their existence is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.
We love the obsessive nature of these, and so here we've gathered 12 of the best to inspire you when you create your own brand style guides...
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Graphics Standards Manual was created by Danne & Blackburn in 1974 when NASA changed from its original crest-based logo to the 'worm' logotype that we are now familar with.
The manual has recently been revived thanks to a Kickstarter campaign to fund its reissue. Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth's glorious new 220-page version of the case-bound NASA document comes with 'static shielding' packaging and can be purchased over at standardsmanual.com.
02. British Rail
Certain members of the Creative Bloq team have spent hours poring over the British Rail corporate identity manual (okay, it's me) and it is easy to see why. Epic levels of obsessive behaviour abound in the guide, which dates back to 1965, and some of the pictograms are a delight.
03. Channel 4
Channel 4's comprehensive style guide leaves no room for confusion on how its brand is used. The guide is 46 pages long, each of which is clean and clear, stating a single guideline per page, often accompanied by a graphic for visual reference.
The Skype style guide is brilliant for many reasons - its pages of cool illustrations being one of them. The communication network hasn't filled its guide with pages of industry jargon, it simply employs easy-to-understand explanations and graphics to get its point across.
One of the biggest companies in the world, Apple has a comprehensive style guide detailing how its branding is to be used. Clean, clear and concise, this 48-page guide explains exactly how to use Apple assets - even where to apply stickers to your Smart car.
Adobe is one of the design industry's strongest brands, and protecting that cast-iron integrity is this style document. So beware - do not use the red tag logo, it is for Adobe use only. (We do love it when you're forceful, Adobe!)
We love this collection of photos of the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, designed by Massimo Vignelli of Unimark International, which feature a font that looks very much like Helvetica and some great pictograms. But please Mr Website Owner, can you scan the pages in as well? Thanks!
The Barbican theatre's identity "is not just a logo. It is a design scheme composed of a number of core elements that come together to create a distinctive look and feel that makes the Barbican brand instantly recognisable". Which is why this guide is so important.
Having said that, the Barbican allows a degree of creative flexibility for designers tasked with using its identity, and takes you through exactly how to achieve that. Which is nice.
Mozilla has this handy description of an erroneously utilised Firefox logo: "Think of these as the equivalent of wearing your shoes on the wrong feet: they’re still shoes, they’re basically where they’re supposed to be, but it just feels wrong." This style guide will ensure you know your left from your right.
Cancer charity Macmillan's 67-page document is comprehensive, containing identity design rules for everything from signage to infographics, plus how to use the brand's familiar green colours and which photos are best used as the image silhouettes you'll find in the charity's marketing material.
Dib dib dib! The quickest way to achieve your logo design badge is to follow the Boy Scouts of America's mildly militaristic manual. Just don't think of writing the scouts' tagline "Prepared. For. Life." without those all-important full-stops...
Budget brand easyGroup, home of easyJet, easyHotel and easyinternetcafe, is very famous for its orange branding. You cannot miss it in airports all over Europe, and there's a reason for that - cleverly implemented (and bright) brand strategy, all outlined in this style guide.
13. DC Comics
Originally founded in 1934, DC Comics – which brought us Superman, Batman and more – created this chart in 1982 to guide its colourists in their style and creativity. It seems the comic art world has come a long way since the 1980s. Whether or not more choice actually means more or less creativity, though, is another matter entirely...
This is an updated version of an article that previously appeared on Creative Bloq.