The Firefly brand Updated


These brand guidelines are for designers and artworkers to create things that work within the Firefly brand. There's a lot more detail below on the application of it. The basic ideas behind the brand are:

Brand elements

Here are the main parts of the Firefly brand. All brands have the same kinds of things so much of this will be going over old ground.

If you do come up with something that you think works well that isn't covered here, do show it to us. If it's something we think will be reused we'd very much like to include it in this document. Having said that, if time is short just stick to what's listed here.

The name of the company

The full, legal name of the company is Firefly Learning LTD.

Whenever you mention the company name in the body of emails, letters or any publicity, just call it Firefly.

The full legal name is used in footers of emails and letters and on legal documents.

Firefly is always written with a capital 'F'. The logo is all in lowercase, but that's the logo. Whenever you write it, it is Firefly.

The strapline

The key phrase, the mini mission-statement of Firefly as a whole is:

Making it simple for students, teachers and parents to connect, share and learn.

We use a shorter version on the cover of our brochures:

Create, share and learn.

For sales and marketing literature we have an additional phrase which encapsulates the 'social proof' of how good Firefly is, and encourages people to find out more:

The learning platform trusted by leading schools.


The main colour for Firefly is red.

The specific shade of red you use depends on what you're using it for.

On screen

For any on-screen work, the Firefly red is:


Dec RGB: 172,29,29

Hexadecimal was originally only used in HTML and CSS for the web but is now used as a way of communicating colours for a wide variety of applications. The decimal is also often still used in graphics tools.

Other colours

We use a blue colour as an accent. This is:

Hex RGB:#2081c4

Dec RGB: 32, 129, 196

The Firefly Learning conference uses green:

Hex RGB:#46ae57

Dec RGB: 70, 174, 87

In the banner there's a gradient effect from the above colour at the end to a central 'glow' of:

Hex RGB:#5dc974

Dec RGB: 93, 201, 116

Text colours

For white backgrounds:

Normal body text should be dark grey:

Hex RGB:#333333

Dec RGB: 51, 51, 51

Headlines can be Firefly red.

Quotes and paragraphs that need calling out can be Firefly red.

With Firefly red as the background colour all text should be white only.


We use a palette of pale greys for some background patterns and to outline some elements. These should never dominate any design, but help the reader see things that are grouped or separated.

In print

For print, we have two ways of describing our red:

Pantone 187C

CMYK 0 91 72 23

The first is a Pantone reference - Pantone is a standardised system of colours that are used worldwide. When you use a Pantone reference it means that anyone can look that up and give you an exact match, no matter where they are.

The Pantone reference for Firefly red is 187C. The 'C' stands for 'coated' - i.e. the print will be varnished and have a shiny or satin appearance. This varnish makes the colour appear richer and deeper. We don't have an 'uncoated' reference.

Pantone is used only for print, and then only when you're commissioning branded work specifically for us. Don't give this reference to anyone who is doing digital work for us.

Pantone references are often called 'spot colour' by printing companies. If you're asked for one, this is what you give them.

The second is known as a process colour. This is because the colour is made by a process of mixing a proportion of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is what you'll usually provide and be asked for when sending our logo or any brand elements out to be printed - usually for newspapers, co-branded stuff like sponsorships and so on.

Check with the printing firm before using process colour and Pantone references in the same piece of work. It will affect the price and timescale for delivery.

The font

Akko. The main brand font.

The Firefly brand font is Akko.

We use it for all branded materials online and in print.

We use Akko for all user interface elements within the Firefly product.

The standard font to use is Akko Light. For emphasis use Akko Light Italic. In place of bold and bold italic use Akko Regular and Akko Regular Italic.

For emails, we use Arial. You know what that looks like.

Getting and using the fonts

We have a licence for use on Firefly company computers of Akko Standard, which covers the Western European languages.

If you need the font then we will need to arrange a licence for you. The font may only then be used on Firefly work and must be deleted once the work is completed.

If you need to use the font for languages from further regions (Eastern Europe, Asia, etc.) we can additionally licence Akko Pro, which has broader support.


We have a selection of happy faces we use to support the brand. We usually use them around quotes and testimonials from people who use Firefly. We sometimes use them collected together as a pattern. We don't dot them around without purpose; they're either supporting something someone has said or grouped together as a happy crowd.

The smiley faces in red on white. They can be recoloured using the other brand colours, if needed.
If the background is red or photographic, the smileys should be filled in white.

The faces are deliberately abstract, but inevitably will suggest difference in gender and skin colour. As a result, make sure you use a variety of faces in your work.

Don't create too much size variation in the faces. Keep to the ranges shown here.

The icons are available as vector outlines. Contact us for the files.

User interface icons

The Firefly brand has a set of icons used throughout the user interface. We don't use these as branding elements as they have specific meanings within the product. If the document you're producing is specifically about individual features we can send you a font containing all the user interface icons.

Charts & diagrams

We often need to illustrate stats about Firefly and how it's used. We've created some illustrations in vector format showing people and school buildings for use on white, Firefly red and Firefly blue. Contact us for these.

For the pie charts and graphics we use a font called Chartwell, available from Fontshop. As it relies on Opentype features we outline the illustration before using it online.

A range of graphics we've used online and in print.

Patterns & Textures

Firefly uses patterns and textures as decorative elements. They are designed to work in large linear panels that span layouts and provide an anchor for the headings and body type.

The background pattern is made up from elements of the logo. The broad diagonal stroke should reach from beyond the top and bottom margins across the page - you must never have it finish anywhere on the page. The horizontal wing elements must always begin beyond the right hand edge and extend leftwards. The implication is that they are still attached to the logo body.

Boxes, containers and outlines

If information needs to be 'called out', try using text styles and alignment first.

If you need to box-out an item, the box should ideally not float on the page, try to anchor it to something.

Borders should be subtly rounded. The idea is to match the roundedness of the brand font Akko. So no bouncy bubbles or sharp edges.

Boxes can be red when the page is white, or white when the page is red. For specific events other colours are used, but refer to the guidelines for those events in that case.

Border widths should always complement the stroke widths of the text.


We use photographs as large structural elements in layouts so that they mark out a large section of the grid or page. We don't dot them around in empty space or within text.

We have commissioned photography of Firefly events, and occasionally buy stock photos



A selection of Firefly images


We use screenshots of Firefly apps and on the web in a lot of material. The information on screen must be:

When presenting screenshots we often try to set the context by putting them in a device frame. We have a set of these as vector illustrations. Contact us for them.

Our device frames on light and dark backgrounds. Contact us for these.


Basic principles

Firefly's brand is one that emphasises clarity and straightforwardness. In a visual sense:


Headings, sub-headings and body text should relate to each other so that it's clear to the reader where they are in the document. Aim to make it obvious what's a heading, what's a subheading and what's regular text.

All text, including headlines, should always be left aligned.

Some quotes and paragraphs can be right aligned if it suits the design and they're on the right hand side of a page or layout.

If possible, avoid centring text. It makes documents hard to scan and creates a chaotic 'bitty' appearance to the layout.

Use only the absolute minimum number of type styles in your document. We don't vary text size, colour or weight without a very good reason.

Do not ever justify text. Text is justified by altering the spacing between lines and words so that the left and right margins are straight. These adjustments mean more work for the eye to interpret - jumping between spaced out, then squashed, text - than regularly set text would.

The Firefly brand has no use for drop shadows, bevels, lens flares or any other effects on text. Do not use them.

Bold text can be used to call attention to individual words and for subheadings in a longer document.

Italic text should only be used for emphasising short runs of text, quotes, or where a non-English word is used.

Do not ever italicise headlines.

Margins, line length and line height

Very short or very long lines of text are hard to read. There is no definite set rule, but aim for around 60–80 characters, roughly 12–15 words.

Paragraphs do not have indented first lines and are separated vertically by the height of one line.

Keep line heights to be roughly 150% of the font size. Again, there's no perfect rule for this, but avoid lines too far apart that the paragraph doesn't look like one thing anymore, or lines too close that characters such as y and j can clash with b and l below them.

Typesetting examples

Detail of a paragraph showing good line heights.
Stray words on their own are hard to prevent online, but can, and must, be fixed for print.
Left-aligned quotation with attribution. Note the hanging punctuation of the quote mark.
The first icon is set correctly, the second isn't.
A simple indented list. The space between items is half that between the list and surrounding paragraphs.
When using a red background, body text should be set in a slightly heavier weight. Large text such as titles can stay the same.

For leaflets, brochures and other professionally-printed work, pay attention to the details of the typesetting before sending it to print. Avoid having single words left on their own line at the end of paragraphs or when carried over to a new page. Generally avoid hyphenation too as automatic hyphenation can give odd results.

Quotations such as testimonials can be made to look different from the main body text, but try to vary only one thing. We typically set quotations in red when the body type is the dark grey. If the quote is attributed, set that in italic, right aligned to the right margin of the quote if possible and appropriate.

Icons within text should be set so that they do not affect the line spacing of paragraphs and are roughly the same height as text characters. This is very likely to happen for websites.

Bulleted text needs care to make sure the reader can distinguish each item clearly, but the whole list should be viewable as one block. Try separating list items with half the vertical space you would use between paragraphs. The bullets can be exdented so that the left margin of the text aligns with paragraphs, or they can be indented so there is a clear change in margin. Either style is fine, but stick to just one in each document.


Firefly layouts start with a core axis. Normally this is provided by vertical stroke of the first 'f' in the logo. Note also that the logo should be positioned carefully so that it relates to the edge of the page, layout or browser viewport.

The grids below are good guidelines, they can be followed directly and will let you create on-brand Firefly documents. However, you might need to adjust positions by eye or create new layouts. If you do need to, send us a sketch of what you're planning - we might have already done something similar you can use as a guide.

1. A cover page. The whole layout is based on the logo dimensions and the space between the logo symbol and wordmark. This is suitable for a document around the A4 size.
2. We've used this layout for leaflets, handouts, and first pages of longer documents. The logo is usually placed at the bottom of the layout like this.
3. Using the grid from layout 2 for following pages. The content can be divided into half, thirds and fifths, with columns joined to create assymetric layouts. Don't mix widths from (say) thirds and fifths.
4. An alternative layout. As this has the logo at the top it's good for company information. The striped area can be used for captions, pull-outs, or the first in a series of images that runs across the page.
5. A grid for use at smaller sizes. It's still based on the logo dimensions but there isn't room to align to the first f in the wordmark.
6. A following page layout. Using the grid set up in layout 5.

These are sample pages taken from documents we've produced.


We have four themes that give Firefly a particular look and feel. Each of the themes can be customised with school branding to varying amounts.

We have a dedicated site for our themes where schools can choose from the various customisation options: Firefly themes site.


Melody is bright, fresh and modern. The design appeals to all ages, with strong colours and soft rounded edges contrasting with spacious layouts and sans-serif typography and crisp iconography.

We use screenshots and illustrations of Melody in a lot of documentation and materials.


Nautilus is bold with a scientific and technological feel. The strong header can be customised with school imagery and layouts are crisp and easy to scan.


Inspired by old school workbooks and manila folders, Folio has a traditional feel. The tones and colours are those of paper and fabric, traditional materials used in a modern way.


Specifically designed with younger students in mind, Storybook is bright and colourful with large easy-to-read type, simple layouts and engaging design elements. Menus and administrative elements are minimised to avoid distractions.