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Guidelines And Standards Manuals

The word 'Guidelines' is in fashion, but implies flexibility. I prefer 'Standards.' The appearance and exposure of the corporate brand must be constant. In even the most entrepreneurial corporate culture where "all permissions are granted unless expressly denied," identity must be the great exception, in which all permissions are denied unless expressly granted. Otherwise, chaos will rule.

Edward Tufte says this well: "If there is a well thought-out design standard, it should be followed. In practice, great design comes from great designers. That is empirically the case. If a great designer did a first-rate standard, that model should be followed. Great design is not democratic; it comes from great designers. If the standard is lousy, then develop another standard." www.edwardtufte.com

Until 2000 or so, the best manuals were beautifully designed books, expensively produced to support their quality message and policy importance. Today, print is more often used for a beautiful "voice" brochure that promotes the corporate brand's visual impact to its employees while the heavy lifting, the nitty-gritty details and application templates, are on a web site. This solves the problems of aging manuals, their high cost and their rapidly declining respect and observance.

Some manuals are at least partly 'open' on the Web, and I will add well-designed examples below as I (or you) find them. For a longer list, see Hans Stol's "Catalogue" page.  Brands of the World also offers a long list of brand manual PDFs.

[Thanks to teacher Paulo Granato (e-mail) in Brazil for suggesting this page, and to URL contributors such as Hans Stol, Piotr Sierzega, Johnny Hood and Design Maven Frank Briggs.]

NoteJerry Kuyper's eight rules for effective manuals (at bottom of this page)



ABB - Excellent. Includes templates, best practices
Accelrys - all on one (long) page  
Air Products - airproducts.com/identity detailed PDFs
Akzo Nobel - akzonobel.com/company/identity
Alberta (Canada province) - corporateidentity.gov.ab.ca  
Alzheimer's Society - 21-page pdf - thorough and to the point
American Heart Association - p0st.americanheart.org/branding  
AT&T - att.com/brand A CoreBrand-built site
Best Buy - How a major retail chain minds its brand
Bitdefender - A software brand's essentials, on one page (by Brandient)
Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC - bcbsnc.com/content/corporate/style-guide The basics
Brasil Telecom - Brasil Telecom  PDF
Cambridge University - Appropriately conservative guidelines
Canada - Managing a nation brand  
Cargill - cargillbrandidentity.com
Cornell University - Comprehensive print, web/screen and audiovisual guidelines
Cummins - Comprehensive, easy to navigate (with a surviving Paul Rand logo, too)
Cunard - cunardguidelines.com  
Daimler, incl. Mercedes Benz - "Design Navigator."  Disciplined, thorough and accessible (thus On Brand)
DSM - identity.dsm.com Dutch, chemicals
European Union 'visibility' - europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/visibility Brand imposition!
FedEx - fedexidentity.com/guidelines/FedEx_Guidelines "Short manual" PDF
GE - ge.com/brand Brilliant;  no longer open!
Handspring - handspring.com PDF only
Heathrow - heathrowexpress.com
Ibsen 2006 - An Event Identity manual; the logo celebrates the playwright's centennial
Knight Frank - knightfrankglobal UK realtors
MIT  Mass. Inst. of Technol. - The "best of show" brand site... driving ideas, history, team, plus guidelines
MacMillan Cancer Support - The best "be the brand" site I have yet seen
MasterCard - mastercardbrandcenter.com mostly for merchants
Mesta - Norway's road builders; good brand and manual But in Norwegian only
NASA - hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/insignia How not to do it (logo, guidelines)
Neilsen Company, The - Brief (ten page) and basic Guidelines pdf  
NortelNetworks - nortelnetworks.com/corporate Very helpful
Novell - novell/com/brandguide
Novozymes - brandguide.novozymes.com
New York Public Library - nypl.org/styleguide Web guide for libraries
Ontario Lottery Gaming - OLG, comprehensive yet concise and elegant
Pfizer - PfizerBrandGuidelines.pdf (2009) All 94 pages
Portugal Telecom (PT) - Good review of basic standards (in Portugese) plus a PDF manual
Princeton University Press - Elegant work from Chermayeff & Geismar, 2007
Raytheon - raytheon.com/identity/ Many templates
Rentokil Initial - Business services giant with dual brands  
Reuters - Print, Interactive, Broadcast & Display sections  
Schott - schott.com/designmanual Thorough
Seagate - seagate.com/branding 24 page PDF
SF Airport - flysfo.com/brand
Smithsonian - America's museum
Sun - sun.com/smrc/branding
The New School - newschool.edu/pdf/VisualIDGuide Beautiful system
Travelers - The red umbrella endures, helped by these guidelines
University College Dublin - ucd.ie/visualidentity  Note the brand research Ireland's biggest
Univ. of Alberta  - creative.ualberta.ca/visualidentity a Canadian university
UPS - UPS_mediaguide (Zip of PDF) Media guidelines only
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security - enter or paste www.cgaux.info
/G_OCX/publications/misc/DHS-
Basic-Guide-Brand&Seal.pdf
Bureaucrats care, too

 

Wiley - wiley.com Publisher brand
Yale University - How Yale does it. Also see their page on typography, by Matthew Carter
YWCA usa - ywcabrand.org username ywcausa
password ourbrand
Yukon Territory - Simple logo, photography and advertising standards

 

The experienced designer Jerry Kuyper adds these thoughts on "a few qualities I try to achieve in identity standards:"

strategic Focus on why it is important and what the company is trying to achieve, not just how to do it.
 
visual Demonstrations are often more effective than lengthy text.
 
easy-to-understand Develop content that is engaging and avoid unnecessary jargon.
 
short 20 pages of useful information may be more effective than 50 pages. 
Don't include filler, such as unnecessary information on how to create a business card, when templates are more effective.
 
respectful Understand who will be using the standards and don't insult their intelligence.
 
balanced Identify the appropriate balance between structure and flexibility. Too much flexibility results in complete chaos, too much structure results in lifeless communications.
 
digital For interim standards, create pdf files that can viewed online, emailed or downloaded and printed
the standards can eventually be established as an online identity resource.
Most printed sets of guidelines are expensive, become outdated and out of print.  (GE printed up 2,000 copies of their 400 page standards in 1987, none were available after the first year)
 
scalable Digital files that can be expanded or revised help to establish that identity management isn't a static or one time event.
 
     
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