It is common, for people without graphic skills, to confuse visual identity and graphic charter.
However the visual identity is not a graphic charter and vice versa. A company’s visual identity is vast, complete and sufficiently diversified to meet graphic needs.
These terms are important, because speaking the same language as your interlocutors will facilitate communication. Conversely, using the wrong terms or using the wrong context can harm an activity or a graphic project. Thus, visual identity, brand identity, graphic charter and logo are different things.
The relationship between the visual identity and its graphic charter
Let us clearly define these two expressions before going any further.
Visual identity is essential to any corporate communication.
It is in a way the essence of the visual representation of a company. A good visual identity can attract the attention of potential customers, but also ensure its reliability and popularity with competing brands and customers.
The visual identity offers the coherence, recognition and memorization of a brand, because it determines the graphic elements as well as the visual components of this one.
Visual identity is essential for a brand, because a company cannot exist without its own visual identity.
The visual identity comprises the fundamental graphics representing the soul of the company and has a very precise function: it is represented by the key graphic elements of the company such as the logo, colors, font, typography, and distinctive signs such as shapes, icons, pictograms, emblem, mascot, character and more.
The visual identity is unique and original: two characteristics that give a brand recognition and memorization capabilities.
The visual identity is therefore only part of the brand identity and the logo is only part of the visual identity.
For the visual identity to be applied consistently and coherently by all the people who interact for or with the brand, a common reference system is needed. Everyone must understand and know the basics of graphics, whether it is a newly recruited team member, a new partner or a provider. A clear and precise guide is therefore needed.
The graphic charter is this key reference, a document that explains and details each graphic element, its standards and its framework of use. Your graphic charter maintains the coherence of your communications, affirms the seriousness of your activity and much more.
For your graphic charter to be effective, it must introduce the elements that refer to your logo, your brand signature, your colors, your fonts and their writing styles. Today, it provides information on both paper and digital graphic fundamentals, in other words, the application of your graphic fundamentals for printing paper but also on the web (website, landing page, newsletter, etc.).
Your logo must be recognizable and unique. The graphic charter specifies its framework of use in all its forms and in all contexts: printing or web support, on colored background or monochrome background, with or without transparency. The logo must also have its variations in black, white and grayscale to be usable in all contexts. It must have a protection zone that will be respected on all supports and to maintain consistency in the breathing margins that will be assigned. Finally, its layout on the various documents, its minimum and maximum size and any prohibitions of use will be specified.
Your brand signature is also an indispensable differentiating element that requires careful consideration. The graphic charter allows you to define the possible positioning of your brand signature (below, above, lateral) and the required distance from the logo.
Your colours are there to evoke a feeling, a reaction, an impression because each color affects behaviour. That is why the choice of colours is directly linked to the components of your brand identity. Your graphic charter must mention what are its colors and colorimetric references in the different versions: CMYK, RGB, Hexadecimal, Pantone.
The graphic charter defines the standards of use according to the context:
Finally, the visual identity must not exist without a graphic charter and the graphic charter cannot exist without a visual identity. The latter is the substance, while the graphic charter is its application guide.