By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

To ensure that your brand logo is presented consistently, create a set of usage guidelines to be followed by everyone who produces marketing materials for your business. Here is a logo-management outline to follow.

Creating standards and usage rules

As a first step toward controlling the presentation of your logo, create high-quality artwork and stipulate that your logo must be reproduced only from approved files.

Beyond requiring use of approved artwork, also control how your logo can appear by establishing usage guidelines in each of the following areas.

Presentation of your logo as a single unit

Too often, those with creative urges want to take liberties with your logo by increasing the size of one element and decreasing the size of another, or by moving elements into different positions to alter the shape of the logo in order to fit it into a space it otherwise doesn’t fit.

Ban individualized treatments by providing artwork for your logo in several allowable shape variations — horizontal and vertical treatments — along with the stipulation that any alternative configuration must be approved prior to usage.

Placement of your logo

Define how your logo can appear in printed materials.

  • Clarify how much open space must exist between your logo and surrounding design elements. For instance, if a wordmark begins with the letter T, instructions may require that the logo be surrounded by open space at least equal to the size that the T appears on the page. This rule ensures the logo won’t be crowded by surrounding artwork.

  • Define how your logo can be positioned. Indicate whether it can appear on its side or in a diagonal placement or whether it must always run parallel to the bottom of the page or screen.

  • Define the smallest size in which your logo can appear. Especially if your logo involves type or fine lines, it may become illegible at small sizes, which reflects poorly on your brand image.

Color treatments

In your guidelines, define the colors in which your logo may appear.

  • Stipulate whether or not you allow the logo art to appear in white on a black or colored background (called a reverse treatment).

  • Clarify whether you allow your logo to appear on colored paper or in colored backgrounds and, if so, whether background colors are limited to a range of allowable colors.

  • Spell out the colors in which your logo can be reproduced. If your logo is to appear in green, for example, take the guidelines a step further by telling exactly which shade of green, giving the ink number from the Pantone Matching System (PMS) used by most printers.

    Also stipulate how to build the approved color through the four-color printing process (called CMYK for cyan-magenta-yellow-black) by defining what percentage of each of the four inks a printer should use to create the desired tone. Further, define how to arrive at the color through the RGB (red-green-blue) process for computer screen display.

Name a brand cop

People don’t fiddle with your logo to be mischievous; they think they’re being creative on your behalf without realizing that their help is apt to harm the strength of your brand identity. That’s why you need to create and circulate usage guidelines and name a person who must approve any variations from the approved usage of your logo.