web design

Design and examples of graphic guidelines

The graphic charter is the backbone of any brand communication, it includes all the information of a brand, its logo and its design. To help you, here are our explanations to create a unique graphic charter!

Anne-Laure CompainAnne-Laure Compain

Anne-Laure Compain

Graphic designer at Snoweb
Published on 14 March 2021 (Updated on 25 February 2022)


Before talking about graphic guidelines and examples, let's start with an observation. The brands whose names we remember all have one thing in common. 

That of having a strong visual identity. 

So yes, we'll quote Apple, Nike or Netflix again. But because they are good examples! For proof, we could recognize their logos and typographies amongst thousands.

Because the communication of these brands is based on a solid graphic charter, on the regularity, but especially on the coherence in their communication.

The graphic charter is used every day in the marketing tools of a brand or a company. Through business cards, a website or even a storefront!

And remember our examples: we remember these brands because of this regularity. Same logo, same colors, same typography. Everywhere. On all the supports.

Of course, not all brands have the same communication budgets to offer themselves this place in the sun in everyone's brain! 

But even at your level, building a graphic charter will help you establish your brand. Because your brand is not just a logo. It's much more than that.

Together, we will go over the advantages of having a graphic charter with examples. We will also detail the difference in content between a paper graphic and a web graphic.

You will also find a template of graphic charter at the end of this article.

1. What is a graphic charter?


When creating a company, it is necessary to establish the graphic universe of its brand. This universe will then be used in the communication and all the tools whether they are paper (business cards, flyer), physical (shop window, stands) or virtual (website, social medias).

We explain why it is important. ⬇️

1.1 Definition of graphic charter

You have just started your business or you are thinking about it. Congratulations! 🥳

The graphic charter will be one of the founding documents of your communication. 

Indeed, you must imagine your graphic charter as a guide, a set of rules that explains the visual elements of your brand. This guide will be part of the important strategic documents for you.

The graphic charter is created by a person who is a specialist in the field.

For example :

  • a graphic designer
  • an art director
  • a webdesigner

All these profiles have in common that they work on the image of brands. They master the visual codes (colors, typography), and the adapted software to translate concepts into images.

If you call upon one of these profiles to create your graphic charter, we will first give you some examples! 

Indeed, it is important to understand the different information that must be included in a graphic charter for this work to be complete.

First of all, we will try to define the graphic charter as a document (often in the form of a .pdf document) which gathers the elements of your visual identity:

  • logo and its variations
  • company colors
  • typography
  • optional: other information about your brand and your values

From this document, your visual identity can then be adapted and used on your next communication elements (website, advertising, catalog, business card).

1.2 Why create a graphic charter?

Do you remember the example of the apple brand in the introduction? That's exactly why you need a graphic charter!

Building a strong brand starts with a clear, solid visual identity that is used everywhere! Even if you are a small brand, yes.

The graphic charter reflects the personality of your company. It tells you how your prospects or customers will recognize you.

Can you imagine, if you use a different typography for each of your communications? You could lose your prospects and customers... Changing your appearance too often could confuse them!

This seems obvious, but it is far from being the case in business. The graphic charter is sometimes neglected or out of date. Do not make this mistake.

In a company where several people work with communication documents, the graphic charter is vital. It allows to maintain a graphic coherence.

It will inform each new employee about the established rules. In short, the graphic charter saves time for the whole team and serves as a basis for deciding on future communication elements

1.3 Update your graphic charter

Yes, it is very often necessary to update the identity of your brand! But why?

Well, simply because your users evolve and their tastes too, trends change and what was modern 5 years ago is now outdated. Design and trends evolve very quickly and your brand must keep pace.

The redesign of your brand is then to be considered to mark again the minds of your target.

For the creation or the redesign of your brand, your graphic charter must contain
graphic charter redesign logotype
Logotype

Presentation of your logo, its construction lines and its declinations. We also find its rights of use, what you can do and cannot do with your logo.

graphic charter redesign colors
Colors

Presentation of the brand's colors in the form of palettes. They are defined on all supports, paper and web. Sometimes light and dark palettes can be created.

graphic charter redesign typography
Typography

Presentation of the fonts of your brand. You can have one or more. They are presented with all their weights: normal, italic, bold...

Need a redesignof your brand?

2. Graphic charter examples


Most graphic charters are built around different elements. Here, we will note 3 main ones: your logo, your colors and typographies.

Note: We can also include editorial rules (tone of voice, baseline, language elements), brand values or historical elements (creation date).

This is why in English-speaking countries we speak of a brand book. This type of document includes the graphic charter, the editorial charter or information on corporate governance.

See below four examples of graphic charters that are particularly meaningful! These charters are good sources of inspiration.

2.1 Slack

slack-charte-graphique

Slack is a collaborative SaaS communication platform widely used in companies as an enhanced corporate messaging.

Its graphic charter is divided into several sections:

Explanation on the logo (logo version only, logo version + typography) : 

  • minimum size
  • background colors
  • use of the logo in color or monochrome
  • what to do or not to do with the logo (stretch, cut...)

The colors of the company :

  • main colors 
  • secondary colors
  • possible combinations of colors

The typography to use :

  • Typography of titles and important information
  • Typography of paragraphs
  • If applicable: the size of the font according to the size

➡️ Slack is a good example of a successful and clear graphic design. You get to know the personality of the company through all these details about the creation of the logo and the choice of colors.

The charter also has the advantage of being easy to read. Result: for its employees, it is an easy tool to take in hand!

2.2 Starbucks

charte-graphique-starbucks

Starbucks is an American coffee chain known all over the world. Its brand identity is strong, making Starbucks one of those brands that you don't forget in a hurry... 

Thanks to its iconic green and its timeless emblematic logo. Moreover, if you want to know the different types of logo that exist, it's here.

The brand dedicates an entire website to its graphic charter. The site is designed from the brand book. It is an excellent example of graphic charter! 

On this site, we find then :

The logo : 

  • its evolution since the creation of the company
  • its variation according to the different background colors
  • the typography used

The colors : 

  • the different declinations of colors used
  • the colors used on the communication elements according to the seasons

Typography : 

  • the three types of typography used 
  • Images : 
  • graphic creations and brand images and their use case in communication elements

➡️ The Starbucks charter is certainly a powerful example: it gives a clear idea of the company's communication.

For example, we can write a text and see how it looks with the typography that Starbucks uses. We discover the theory: these graphic rules and the practice with examples of advertisements of the brand.

The graphic charter itself carries the graphic identity of the brand which is functional and expressive.

2.3 Deezer

gif charte graphique deezer

Here is the graphic charter of Deezer, the French music streaming application. 

This is again a website version of the graphic charter. It details precisely :

The logo : 

  • how the logo is constructed 
  • the space to be respected between the logo and the other graphic elements
  • the declination of the logo under different backgrounds of colors
  • the maximum and minimum sizes
  • the "do's" and "don'ts" in other words what to do or not to do with the logo
  • the declination of the logo under different languages

The colors :

  • the main colors
  • the secondary colors

The typography : 

  • the main and secondary typography
  • the declension in Arabic and Hebrew

2.4 French Tech Grande Provence

charte-graphique-french-tech

Finally, discover the perfect graphic charter through the example of the French Tech Grande Provence.

The French Tech is an official French label awarded to metropolitan clusters or innovative French companies.

Here, the graphic charter is a good model that takes the usual codes of graphic charters:

The logotype is shown with information about its minimum and maximum size. We also see it with its different variants. We find a panorama of good practices and what not to do with this logo.

All the colors used are detailed as well as the typographies used.

3. Create a graphic charter step by step


Many small businesses think that the logo is enough to create a graphic charter. Do not make this mistake! 

It is true that the logo is a pillar of the graphic design, but it is not the only one. Here is the step by step to build a graphic charter.

Starting with the logo

It is from him that we build a graphic identity.

Choose the colors

No more than 5 colors for a clear visual identity.

Choose the typography

The typography reflects the spirit and values of your company.

3.2 Choosing the right colors for your brand identity

In a second step, the graphic charter also fixes the choice of colors. We advise the use of a maximum of 5 colors: it is an ideal number to not disturb the memorization.

In the charter, you must show these colors, as well as the use of the logo with these different colors.

One must inform the values of the colors with: the name Pantone, CMYK, RGB and the hexadecimal values. This will facilitate the intervention of graphic designers for your future communications.

Note that creative professionals like graphic designers or web designers know the colors and their meanings. This can be useful to guide the graphic identity of your company.

Here are the meanings of the most common colors:

Blue will be used most often to promote :

  • companies in the health sector (medicines)
  • cleaning (cleaning products)
  • financial transactions (banks)
  • transport and travel (airlines, airport, wind power)

Blue has the great advantage of inspiring confidence, it is a reassuring color. This may explain why Facebook, Twitter or Paypal use it: these sites use personal data and they must therefore inspire confidence!

It is not advisable to use blue to launch a concept in the food industry.

  • Red is a strong eye-catcher. In web design, it is therefore a color that is reserved for promotions or on call to action buttons. 
  • To build your brand idea, the color yellow will evoke joy and leisure. If you work in the children's, education or leisure sector, this color will be perfect! Yellow can also be used for a food brand.
  • Finally, green is a good solution to evoke stability or growth in a company. Of course, it is also a color that is associated with environmental protection, well-being, environmentalism or relaxation. Dark green, on the other hand, is more of a color chosen in the field of money and finance.
💡Note that the color is not perceived in the same way by everyone: it should therefore not be the only element to convey information!

3.3 The choice of typography

The typography or font also has a big part to play in building your brand identity!

It is important to use typography that will reflect your company and the message you want to convey through your communication.

Some brands hire designers to create a personal and unique typography. This is a wise choice because it will make your brand even more identifiable among others! 

Nevertheless, it is certain that this represents a significant cost. 

That's why Google Font is a gold mine for typeface research! New typefaces are added almost every day. So there is no lack of choice. 

Here are some examples according to the brand universe you want: 

For a feminine style:

A more masculine spirit:

A childlike typography: 

More classic fonts: 

The typefaces found on Google Font are also perfectly suited for use on a website. On the other hand, this is not the case for all the typefaces that you can download from free databases. 

So how to choose your typeface among the huge choice that Google Font represents?

Here are our 3 tips for choosing your typeface:

List 3 adjectives that represent your brand

Finding adjectives to describe your brand is important because it will set the tone for your communication. For example, it can be: simple, classic, warm, creating links...

The typography used should reflect your main adjective. For example, for a brand that advocates minimalism or modernity, we can choose sans serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. These fonts have smooth edges, they show a contemporary image. 

Choose from 2 to 3 fonts 

Generally, it is recommended to choose 2 to 3 fonts maximum. For example: you will use one font for the titles and a secondary one for the paragraphs. 

Choose a font that complements the logo

Finally, rather than using the same font as your logo, you can choose a complementary font for your titles. This way, a coherence between these two typographies will be noticed. Moreover, you will have a kind of hierarchy on your site between the typography of your logo, your titles and your text.

4. Differences between a paper and web graphic charter


We have seen so far the specificities of a paper graphic design. It is important to understand the difference between a paper graphic and a web graphic. Indeed, in the second case, there will be more details related to the web interface.

4.1 Create a paper graphic charter 

As we have seen in our graphic charts examples, the graphic chart paper will appear:

  • Logo or logotype and its variations: it reflects the image of your company. We also return all the possible variations of the logo (color, background, texture ...) detailed on different media: business card, flyer, letterhead, estimate, invoice, poster, vehicle. 
  • Typography: both the typography of the logo but also the titles and texts if they are different. 
  • Colors: the associations of colors (see article "how to create your logo") should not be numerous, one is enough with only 4 or 5 complementary colors
  • The positioning of each element (logo, title, baseline,...) for each communication medium. The margins, the positioning in the document and the security zones must be indicated
  • Possible graphic elements such as icons or photographs

4.2 The web graphic charter 

The web graphic charter is realized in the case of a website creation or a redesign. It must allow the entire project team (web developers, web designers, UX designer ...) to use the same codes.

We indicate in this graphic charter :

  • Logo: its use on the site, its location and its "safe zone"
  • Web colors: maximum 5 colors that define your identity on the web
  • Web typography: choice of typography, size of titles (H1, H2, H3, ..., H6), paragraphs, quotes. But also the line spacing (space between the lines of a text) and inter lettering (space between the letters of a title for example)
  • Buttons: colors and display of the text on click and mouse over. You can indicate the rendering if there is a micro interaction (such as a change in size when the mouse is moved for example)
  • Sections: indicate the background color under a text and the color of the text according to it
  • Forms: this time we specify the color of the form fields that are empty, being filled, filled and the potential rendering of the display of an error message
  • Icons 
  • Any other style element such as a horizontal line that separates your titles from your paragraphs

So! Ready to create your own graphic charter with these examples?

We advise you to call a professional to realize it. Moreover, it is often interesting to confront your ideas to a professional outside your company. This one will bring a new and objective look.

And then, between us... A logo made by a passionate person of his trade will certainly have a more qualitative return than the logo drawn on your notebook! 😉

Download ourGraphic charter template

Snoweb provides you with an example of a graphic charter that we have realized for one of our customers.

example graphic charter

In this graphic design template you can see in one document all the steps detailed in the article. To know:

  1. The construction of the logo
  2. The colors of the brand
  3. The logo and all its variations
  4. The typography(s) used
  5. The prohibited uses of the logo
  6. The possible uses of the logo

We hope that you have enjoyed this article and that it helps you to better understand the usefulness of a graphic charter.

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