As a brand designer I constantly find myself creating brand guidelines, which depending on the project, the guides and assets included although may vary a little, usually are the same: logo sizes and clear space, layout use, color palette, typography' use... When creating brand guidelines, though the contents that each guideline has to include are supposedly what the in-house design team of the company may need, sometimes those "needs" are kinda diffuse. For example, I've found myself creating guidelines for printed layout systems when probably what is more needed is creating digital layout systems.
Comparing the evolution of brand design and product design, I've come to realize there's so many good stuff product designers are doing that apparently no one is applying in branding; though I can number many, I'll focus on design systems. Design systems vs. guidelines is basically like "Okay I'm not gonna tell you the rules you have to respect to play with your brand, but I'm actually gonna give you the assets and components to build it properly across different touchpoints AND I'm gonna keep them updated constantly through collaborative tools such as Figma"
Create components, not guidelines. Create models they can use to start from, with columns, rulers, color sets, text styles and even key visuals
Yes, I know somehow we've finally moved from the endless version that brand guidelines require when they are delivered as a PDF to tools like Brandpad or Frontify, which ease the work, but the rules still there. Rules and guidelines are fine if the brand you're working for has a professional design time that can easily use and understand those guidelines to create brilliant design' pieces, but we all know not all the brands we work for have THAT cool-edgy-design-team as Spotify or Dropbox, right? we all know that many brands have a "marketing team" formed by two people who maybe know a little bit of photoshop and illustrator but they lack on its sense of design (Color, type, grids and so on) Hey, I'm not underrating this people who don't know how to create a poster but they have to, I'm actually exposing this situation and how we, brand designers, can help them to use the brand properly without speaking in the "designers language"
The solution? (Maybe) Create components, not guidelines. Create models they can use to start from, with columns, rulers, color sets, text styles and even key visuals. Models can be improved, updated and enriched, mainly when this are in a collaborative or digital platform instead of a static one, such as a PDF that will get lost among folders.
The time saved by using the system, as well as the simplicity of using a single file, has payed the price
But, Why the hell am I talking about this?
Back in October, after have worked with the team at Neutrale for a couple of months we've come to decide to build a brand guidelines; after a couple of weeks from the PDF with the guidelines got delivered, I've realized that it was completely useless, But why?
In the team, though I'm the main designer, when it comes to social media pieces and ads for facebook, Marta and Nacho do the work, so, to ease the process for them, I've created a Figma file (See more in here) with the main components to build the different pieces in different sizes, as well as text styles, color sets and other basic assets you can find on a design system.
Yes, I've kinda had to train them a little on how to use Figma, but the time saved by using the system, as well as the simplicity of using a single file, has payed the price.
Branding people, give yourself a try on how product designers work, oh! and calm that ego down.