Style Guides: It’s All in the Look!

The logos. The colors. The images. When it comes to licensing, ensuring the look of your licensed product is paramount. It’s crucial to receive access to the correct brands assets from your licensors. It’s much more crucial to have your creative team, sales team and marketing team on the same page and give them access to the brand assets.

It not only endears you to consumers who are fans of the brand, but it also ensures that you won’t be in breach of contract terms.

We often call the brand assets a brand licensing style guide. Licensors put forth the artwork, logos, font treatment, color palette, backgrounds, photographs, video file, packaging, legal lines, and more creative content which make up the style guide.

A style guide does not generate revenue for a brand, it provides significant value.

Its purpose is to ensure brand consistency through standardization of all visual assets and design elements, allowing the licensor to take control of how the brand is represented in the marketplace.

The unique elements of a specific brand combine to give a consistent brand look.

At the same time, licensees and partners view a well-devised licensing program style guide as a valuable tool. Licensees knowing what approved look can be used is essential to any licensing partnership.

Style guides serve like a holy book for licensees. Follow the guide to the letter and you should have no issues.

It’s the not-so-secret sauce that shows not only what is legally allowed to use but, more importantly, what makes the brand THE brand.

Following the brand guidelines is integral to maintain brand identity.

The Logo

Logos are usually the easiest way to distinguish a brand.

They are what consumers tend to think of first when identifying a brand like McDonald’s golden arches “M,” the apple on every iPhone, or Batman’s bat emblem.

Yet, logos do not stay the same year to year. It is important for licensees to use the most current logo as it involves trademark and copyright issues. Federal Express is now FedEx. Walt Disney is now Disney. Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC.

Logo visuals are updated throughout a brand’s history, sometimes drastically.

Style guides ensure licensees have the most current logo with instructions on proper usage and placement. They’ll also include the appropriate fonts and where to get the appropriate license for that font.

Licensees need to follow best practices for asset creation, otherwise any improper usage will misrepresent brand’s visibility.

The Color

Colors are keenly associated with brands. Knowing the correct Pantone or CMYK colors are important to ensure brand consistency.

And many times, sticking to specific color format is also for legal obligation for licensees.

Several brands have had their colors trademarked like Tiffany blue, Post-It yellow, Coca-Cola red, and UPS brown. Pantone even created SpongeBob Yellow and Patrick Star Pink to celebrate Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants’ 20th anniversary.

Style guides include the exact Pantone or CMYK colors needed for a brand’s iconic look as well as approved variations if printing limitations are needed.

The Artwork

Having a license does not mean you have access to every artwork the brand owns. Many brands have a long history of artwork to use and brand owners may format access to certain styles.

Having a superhero license could mean you only have access to the most current version of the brand.

Some licensees may only have access to classic versions of the brand.

Brands will update artwork constantly both for trademark and copyright allowance as well as for different trends or seasons (e.g., Spring/Summer vs. Fall/Winter, holidays, etc.).

Just because a licensee has a license does not mean they have access to all that brand’s materials, or artworks throughout that brand’s history.

Limiting access to only the artwork a licensee can use is essential for contract compliance.

And duplicating a brand’s trademarked artwork in a similar way when not approved can lead to legal troubles as this Batmobile court case shows.

DAM That’s The Look

For licensors and licensees, it’s critical to have an easy-to-use brand asset management tool that allows the creative workflow move smoothly.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) system can ensure that both licensor and licensee have the accurate imagery needed for the license while keeping assets protected and secure. You can store all logos, artwork, templates, digital files, audio or video files- in one central location.

The digital asset management solution should allow you to efficiently review, share, and optimize the use of brand assets.

New assets can be easily added and shared while out-of-date assets should be quickly removed from a licensee’s catalog.

Not only will a good DAM system give you the proper look for a brand, it can also help you analyze what assets are working best through detailed reports that track statistics related to downloads, users, companies, and more.

When it comes to digital assets management, you want a DAM smart tool that makes the process easier for both licensors and licensees.

Learn more about Dependable Solutions’ digital asset management system that makes managing brand asset rights and permissions simple, easy, and secure.



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