Branding cities and countries is becoming increasingly popular, and if done right, it could mean a huge revenue stream for local governments. In this post, we’ll take a tour through the brand manuals of 26 cities and countries to understand what city branding is and why designers need these guidelines.
So let’s ask ourselves first: why is a brand guideline necessary for a city or a country?
Having its own design system with established guidelines helps to understand the city’s messages and information. Thus, it is important to maintain cohesion in order to recognize the design system as a whole.
But from the perspective of User Experience (or UX), brand manuals are central to defining the aesthetic aspects of user interface design (UID for short) as well as other elements that make up more complex experiences, such as Customer Experience, (better known by the acronym CX), HCI, XCI/XMI, accessibility, etc.
In other words, a well-done brand manual saves a lot of time when investigating usability in a mobile or web development project or marketing strategy. Let’s remember that many of the variables to be examined were already examined when the brand guidelines were created.
City of Detroit’s Trademark Manual
The following image from the City of Detroit’s Trademark Manual show the specifications that the logo must adhere to in order to be properly reproduced. The manual specifies the minimum size of the logo, the white space that must be left around the logo, shows different types of the logo in terms of its implementation, which responds to the responsiveness of the logo and specifications for the printing of the image.
Amsterdam Brand Manual
Amsterdam’s brand manual, which includes the slogan “I Amsterdam” (a pun on the words I AM), provides guidelines for the logo and typography.
It also includes detailed calculations to use the logo design in different formats, be it on advertising posters of different sizes and proportions or for digital use, such as web design, social media ads, etc.
Download the full brand guidelines
Madrid Corporate Identity Guidelines
The Madrid Corporate Identity Guidelines tell us how to use the Madrid City Council logo, shield and seal, and focus on the identity of the council through billboards, construction fences, stationery, corporate signage, digital environments, vehicles and more, covering a lot of information to be able to reproduce the system without problems.
Download the full Madrid Identity Guidelines
Melbourne Logo Identity
Melbourne’s identity manual focuses on the use of the logo, giving dimensions, sizes and other specifics. It also points out the wrong uses when implementing the logo and gives examples of what not to do.
The background image or the color we use when implementing a logo is important, otherwise it could become illegible or distort its original function.
Download the full Melbourne brand manual
Tokyo Logo Manual
Tokyo’s trademark manual focuses on the logo and its use. Although the manual is in Japanese, we can understand some details from the context. The manual shows the logo and its different sizes, uses on objects, incorrect uses of the logo, and the variations that can be found of the logo shown by the different colors chosen by Tokyo to give a feeling and thus use the appropriate color for the image situation.
Download the full Tokyo Manual
Buenos Aires Identity Manual
The visual identity guidelines for the city Buenos Aires present most of the features seen in previous city branding books.
In addition, the manual has characters and objects designed exclusively for the design system. On the other hand, it has logo variations, such as the one in the following image, that are used for audio-visual materials, animated GIFS, or pieces where the characters can be animated.
Download the full Buenos Aires Identity Manual
Brasilia Brand Manual
The Brasilia trademark manual, just like the Tokyo Brand City Guidelines, focuses on the logo. it includes logo construction, color variations, incorrect uses, minimum sizes, and different types of applications.
Download the full Brasilia Brand Manual
Bogota Identity Guidelines
The Bogota Manual shows a complete evolution of the logo and its construction, taking into account all the needs previously seen, such as color variations, improper uses, construction of the logo or applications. In addition, it includes a section of symbols designed for each specific type of communication in the form of “accents”. The city branding style guide includes examples of the construction of these accents and special characters.
Download the full Bogota Identity Guidelines
Hong Kong Brand Identity
The brand identity of Hong Kong focuses mainly on the brand and shows a logo worked in full color and of great complexity. In the manual we see more color variations and the logo in different language versions, either Chinese, English and bilingual. It also has a section with symbols for different areas of the city, such as food, entertainment, sports and more.
Download the full Hong Kong Brand Identity manual
New York Brand Guidelines
New York City branding guidelines feature extensively developed brand values, strategy, and concepts. Therefore, the treatment of the logo in relation to its function is striking. On the one hand we find variations of the logo in relation to the season, on the other hand there is the treatment of the logo according to themes, for example the logo adapted to the theme of family or sports.
Download the full New York Brand Guidelines
More FREE City Brand Manuals
Download the full Chicago River Brand Manual
Download the full Dublin Visual Guidelines
Download the full Mayor of London Brand Standards
Download the full Montevideo Identity Guidelines
Download the full Quito Trademark Manual
Download the full Sao Paulo Identity Manual
Download the full Denver Visual Standards
Download the full Orange City Brand Guidelines
Countries Identity Guidelines
Switzerland Brand Guidelines
The Swiss Brand Guidelines are very broad and comprehensive, ranging from logo, typography and logo placement in formats to stationery, digital environments, objects and more. On the other hand, there is a special section that specifies how the logo is constructed in different languages, which helps the user experience understand exactly which country it is.
Download the full Switzerland Brand Guidelines
Peru Visual Identity Manual
The visual identity manual of Peru, in addition to the characteristics of the previous manuals, focuses substantially on the presentation of the brand. As such, it includes some specificities such as complementary graphics for publications or packaging and key phrases that, according to the manual, show the characteristics that help to identify the vocal tone of communication of the Peru brand.
This identity manual was designed by Interbrand, and is one of the most complete in terms of information.
Download the full Peru Visual Identity Manual
Ukraine Logo Standards
Ukraine’s trademark manual is not in English, but we can understand the concepts from context. This manual presents the logo in a fairly modern way, both of what logo is and of the manual itself. In this case, the color palette is always the same, while the position of the brand elements can change.
Download the Ukraine’s Trademark Manual
Belgium Trademark Manual
The Belgian Trademark Manual focuses on the logo and summarizes the essential features such as colors and intended use. It also shows the logo and its slogan in different language variants and how it interacts in co-branding.
Download the full Belgium Trademark Manual
Other Cities and Countries Brand Guidelines
These brand manuals do not have the download option, but they are still of interest to us. Take a look at these pages!
Helsinki Visual Identity Guidelines Website
New York City Council Brand Guidelines Website
Conclusion: City Styles Guides are a great way to learn design by example
City branding books are a great resource for designers responsible for applying said brand. But it’s also a great way to learn design from some of the world’s greatest design studios. We hope you enjoy this list, and make sure to bookmark this page and check it every 2-3 months as we will be sharing more city style guides as we get them.
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