Branding and Style Guides

  • Posted on: 10 May 2019
  • By: Chad Glamann

Here’s a quick test. Think about the most recognizable brands that come to mind. What is it about these brands that make them stick in your brain? Is it the colors? The message or tagline? The logo? The most memorable brands have achieved that status by having a defined look that is a cohesive blend of color, fonts, logo, messaging and images. It’s that repetition and adherence to their “look” that make these brands easy to spot a mile away.

Branding is a cornerstone of any organization’s marketing efforts and serves as the basis of how your audience perceives you. Branding can be difficult and there’s a reason that companies will often turn to outside marketing and advertising agencies for help. But does it have to be?

Let’s simplify

When it comes to building your library’s brand through visuals and messaging it all boils down to creating a cohesive, memorable look. There are some simple steps you can take to create and maintain a focused and distinctive brand for your library.

A little self-reflection

Before you even begin thinking about color and font choices, you need to take stock of where you currently are with your branding. Start by thinking about these questions:

  • Do we have a vision and/or mission statement that reflects our current goals?
  • Do we have a logo that represents that vision and/or mission statement?
  • Is our current culture represented in our branded physical and digital materials?

Once you have answered these questions, do a bit of exploring. Think about brands that you respect and follow and what it is about them you like. Is it their visuals? Their messaging? Take some time to note elements from that brand that jump out to you. Are these elements consistent on their website, social media and physical materials?

Now take those same elements you noted from the brands you admire and evaluate where your library stands in regards to these branding touchpoints. Does your library present a cohesive look across the following channels?

  • Online presence including your website and social media channels
  • Printed materials including flyers, posters and brochures
  • Physical environment including signage and displays

Set a goal with brand guidelines

The goal with establishing brand guidelines is to maintain a strong, consistent look across all channels from your printed materials to your digital presence. Creating a brand guide will help employees and outside organizations stay “on brand” when creating visuals or messaging for your library.

To give you an idea of what a brand guide can look like, follow this link to the Houston Public Library’s visual style guide. This guide would probably be overkill for most libraries, but the overall format and much of what it covers is very useful information. Your brand guide should cover the following items:

  • What is our color palette? You can use your logo as the basis of what colors compliment your brand.
  • What is our typography of choice?
    • Note the primary font families and font weights you use for printed and digital materials.
  • Do we have requirements for photos? Minimum resolution size?
  • Do we have specific graphics that we use to represent certain services or programs?
  • What is our tagline and can this be modified or personalized?
  • Logo placement
    • Does our logo have a vertical and horizontal option?
    • Do we have a color and black and white version of our logo?
    • Do we have a version with or without a tagline or slogan?

With these guidelines in place you can start to create a cohesive look that over time becomes identifiable as your brand.

For help creating a brand guide or any other marketing or design projects please feel free to reach out to me at