Protecting Your Brand With API Branding Guidelines

One of the top five concerns I hear from companies considering APIs is regarding losing control of their brand. With APIs being about access to raw data and resources, companies immediately think that developers will extract the value, without any attribution or reference to the companies brand.

Even with this being a major concern, I see many APIs implement very poor branding guidelines, giving developers zero direction regarding how to properly provide attribution.  This is a missed opportunity to not just protect the API providers brand, but actually extend it and increase its value.

With this in mind, I'm always on the lookout for good examples of API branding guidelines.  One recent example I came across while monitoring my API Stack, is from the Active Network which provides activity and outdoor content via their APIs.

Active Network starts with a great explanation of why they provide branding guidelines:

At ACTIVE Network, we want you to be able to create fantastic applications with the ACTIVE Network APIs. At the same time, we don't want users to get confused about who is responsible for the data they are accessing, so we have some brand guidelines.

Next Active Network explains to developers why branding guidelines are important to their own users:

  • The ACTIVE brand holds credibility in the mind of the customer. It serves as a seal of approval giving customers the confidence to transact through a trusted source
  • As a consumer utility,® captures and records registration activity providing people with a record of their personal registration history if they need it at a future date
  • Transacting for an ACTIVE powered activity, tells your customer who they need to call if they need help. ACTIVE’s standard of excellence provides customers with 24/7 support 365 days a year

Active Network also provides details on how to properly use their companies name (which I followed in my story), what attribution is required, and a complete branding kit for download as a zip file--containing the following key assets:

  • Branding Guidelines in PDF Format
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  • Register Now Buttons

The Active Network Branding Guidelines is one of the better implementations I've come across. It provides a nice overview, with all of the details and assets needed to execute properly.

Even if you aren't concerned about your brand when it comes to your API, requiring some attribution from your developers will at least help you market and advertise your API, and potentially bring in new API consumers.