A client can be happy at first blush at all the work I’ve done for them in creating a new brand identity, but if they don’t know how to apply this branding, they’ll quickly become frustrated as their beautiful branding becomes a confused mess.
Making sure that my clients not only have the files I’ve created for them, but also that they understand how to use them, ensures that they look good for years to come. Without clear guides, clients can resize and misuse logos, which can damage their brand and also leave them annoyed with me the designer, despite all my hard work.
The stylebook is my first line of defense against client ire. For a client, a stylebook is the most useful tool they’ll reach for when expanding the use of their brand. It is a guide that explains how to use the different versions of a logo and gives a record of colors and typeface used on all materials. The stylebook is the instruction guide for a completed brand update, and large institutions will have entire binders that keep them right for every division of their business.
The stylebook also includes details on brand colors, complete with color names and numbers for web and print. Any additional visual elements are detailed, including gradients, mascots, or small visual touches included on business cards and stationary as part of a larger theme.
The second set of files I send is two export guides – one for print and one for web. These are Adobe Illustrator files.
While the stylebook can be applied easily by even the most low-tech client, these files are intended for future designers working with the client. These files are organized with clear labels in the file. I save them in a format that needs Adobe Illustrator or another vector program to open. While they’re easy to understand, it will take someone with a little experience and the right software to open and export these correctly.
There are two versions of this file: CMYK for print and RGB for web.
I use a template created by designer Lindsay Marsh. She’s very experienced and is dedicated to providing resources and education to designers.
The last set of files is the actual exported set of logos from the export guide, again organized into CMYK for print and RGB for web. I organize files first by purpose: print or web. I then create subfolders in each of these to separate logos by logo style, and save them out in three types: JPEG, PNG, and SVG.
This gives a client the files without the need to go into the vector files and export what they need every time. I often find they need the assistance of someone a bit art-savvy to apply their files, but this gives them the option of kicking an SVG, say, over to a decal printer without needing to phone me up. They can also send these files over to their web developer (if that’s not me), and just generally have access to everything they paid me for.
More recently, I’ve also been including a Logo Format Guide that details what filetypes are used in what situations.
Other files included are situational, depending on what work has been commissioned. If you’ve completed business cards, a wine label, stationary, envelopes, thank you cards, etc., these will be included as PDFs, formatted for printing, or Word documents, ready for in-office printing.
I always include the original files as well, again to allow future designers to come in and make edits. A printer can always change the name and phone number on a business card from a PDF, but down the line, you never know what a business will need to update.
Any PDFs intended to go to a professional printer will include all marks and bleeds.
To a client, this can all be an overwhelming amount of material, so I am careful to organize it for them so it’s easy to navigate what’s there.
Together, these files are all the resources a client will need to use their new branding and to do any expansions of modifications in the future. These organizational steps might not be the most sexy part of graphic design, but they add value to my work and keep a client happy for years to come.