If you plan to create or develop your brand’s visual identification system, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will find out why the Brand Book or CI in a standard PDF form will be insufficient if you want to conquer the Internet in 2021. In order for your brand to have a coherent image in many dimensions of space and online opportunities, it is worth investing in the Digital Look&Feel Brand Book.
It has different names: Brand Book or CI (Corporate Identity). It’s a set of rules for using the logo and other characteristic visual elements of the brand in such a way that its image is consistent, legible, and recognizable. It is an essential element when working on brand marketing activities and is a very helpful tool for external partners of the brand. As a rule, the Brand Book should be prepared in such a way that it fully defines the principles of creating company and communication materials.
As a general rule, apart from Brand Books of global corporations, most of the Brand Books that operate in our (marketing) industry look similar. These are usually long PDF files with more or less essential content. For designers who come into contact with a given brand for the first time, the most important information (apart from the font family and the safe area) can be found at the end of the Brand Book. These are examples of the use of the brand’s characteristic visual elements on various advertising media, such as an advertising banner, mailing, landing page, etc. It often turns out that a given Brand Book does not contain this information, because the brand, wanting to save on the costs of producing its book, ordered only its basic version. The end results are such that the advertising materials of such a brand look very different during subsequent campaigns, which results in a very inconsistent image. The lack of clear guidelines as to the style and tone of communication, recommendations for the quality of photos and videos, recommendations for building statements (those more formal, those for everyday needs, and those that you should take with a pinch of salt) – allow advertisers, designers, directors, and graphic designers “to have their own interpretation and to add something from themselves ”.
The Internet, just like the universe, is constantly expanding. New digital forms, digital products, and thus digital advertising media are being developed very quickly. The multitude of various social media websites and applications means that brands and their marketing departments must face new platforms and Internet trends with their image. For example, many brands, even global ones, still don’t have a good idea to adjust their image and enter the TikTok platform. How are they supposed to know it, since their Brand Books or CI’s do not contain clear directives on how to navigate in the space of ever new digital trends.
Clever, aware, and forward-looking designers, creators of visual identification (such as The Humans), when accepting an order to create or develop a Brand Book for a brand propose, in addition to the standard identification book, to develop and create a digital version of it. Yes, it is more expensive because it requires more work. In this variant, in addition to the designer developing different rules and visual principles, the involvement of the development team is also needed which is the main factor affecting the higher production cost of such a book. The financial aspect is only apparent here, taking all the benefits into account. The online version of the Brand Book is nothing more than a more or less extended website. It may contain all the information that is in the standard form of a PDF Brand Book and, apart from that, countless (depending only on the client’s budget and the designer’s imagination) number of rules and directives telling about the brand’s behaviour in the online space. Imposing a certain framework on marketing managers and advertisers, within which they should operate when designing for a given brand, will certainly shorten the design processes, and this will have an impact on lower production costs. Another benefit is the easy access to the Digital Brand Book. It appears under one link, just like any website, and at any time both an employee of the company or its partner can see how the brand recommends to present and communicate in the selected space. The Digital Look & Feel Brand Book can be easily updated and, most importantly, after each update or after adding a new type of guidelines, there is no need to send out a new PDF to the entire company, group, and partners.
The Digital Look & Feel Brand Book offers one more option that cannot be provided by any static Brand Book form. Namely, instructions on how a brand should behave in mobile spaces, i.e. devices that customers of each brand don’t part with. It’s very important that the brand gives its partners clear guidelines in this area and no photo in a PDF file will replace the possibility of seeing these guidelines on a living RWD organism. The possibility of a video presentation, micro-animations, sales process behaviour are other values that Digital Look & Feel Brand Book can contain.
Let’s take a look at good examples from Poland and other countries. The new image of Peugeot consists of not only a refreshed logotype but also an extensive and highly interactive digital Brand Book. Its composition is extremely dynamic thanks to the use of various micro-interactions, animations, and videos. The company, together with the introduction of electric cars to its offer, decided to modernize its promotional materials. In our opinion, it did it as technologically up to date as possible and it is the best example of the Digital Look & Feel Brand Book in 2021.
A very neat example is the visual identification system of the city of Rybnik. Perhaps it’s not as dynamic as the Peugeot digital Brand Book, but the fact that the city authorities have decided to control their image and create a space of complete visual signposts deserves great respect. The Brand Book of Rybnik is very easy to use, interactive, and most importantly, contains a lot of examples of the proper use of the crest and logo of the city. In order to make it easier for its partners to create promotional materials, the city gives them the opportunity to access all resources and components in the form of ready-to-use files. They are ready for download after logging in to the website. Despite the smaller amount of micro-interactions than in the case of Peugeot, this use of the manual deserves a mention due to the fact that it is one of the few and so well-structured digital Brand Books on the Polish market. The city of Rybnik deserves applause for the courage to enter the digital world with its image, and Studio Otwarte for a very professional job. Other digital Brand Books of great players such as Uber, YouTube, and Netflix also deserve attention and recognition.
Digitized Brand Books are still not very popular, especially among smaller organizations in Poland. Probably the higher production costs compared to the standard PDF Brand Book have a significant impact on this situation. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the costs are only apparently higher. Having a digital Brand Book in your organization and updating it with new guidelines will certainly translate into lower production costs during each marketing campaign from the point of view of the labour costs of marketing managers and working hours of advertising designers. Additionally, the digitization of the brand’s visual identification will make great sense in those organizations that want to build a modern image.
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