How to interpret and follow brand guidelines

The idea of following brand guidelines is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention on most design courses. “I’ve never come across an intern or graduate who understands the fundamentals of brand guidelines,” says Ellie Pearson, senior designer and studio manager at Cambridge-based agency Mobas. “But it’s not their fault: they weren’t told about it, and neither was I.”  

The concept itself, though, is quite simple. Brand guidelines are a set of rules that dictate how all elements of a brand should be applied. Designers are given a detailed outline of a brand's preferred colours, fonts, logos and so on, and how each are to be used. But what students are often taken aback by is the sheer range of things covered by brand guidelines. 

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.