You've worked with a designer (or created your brand yourself!). You've got your logo. Your colors. Fonts. Textures. Image styles. You've got your entire brand wrapped up and ready to go.
Any designer (or ecourse) worth their/its salt will hand over your files in different formats and present you with guidelines that show how all your elements come together.
Most likely, you'll get this info in a brand board.
Your brand board is a succinct guide reminding you of your brand elements at a glance. But it's useless if you don't understand what to do with it.
The goal of a coherent brand redesign is to make your materials instantly recognizable and attract your dream customer to work with you. So how do a few scribbles and colors on a board help you do that?
Let's break it down.
Think of your brand board like a helpful, helpful blueprint: You use these colors, these fonts, these textures, and these types of images. Only these types.
If you think I'm being overzealous with my strict commitment to consistency, it's because I've seen WAYYY TOO MANY excellent brands fall apart into complete crap when their brand guidelines are thrown to the wayside!
Consistency is so important that I am prepared to make this absolute statement: A shitty brand that is consistent is 100x more powerful than a GOOD brand that's all over the place.
That's right. Your logo could be in Comic Sans and Papyrus, but if you use your brand elements consistently, over and over again, your audience will be able to recognize your materials right away – and your fugly brand will beat out any beautiful branding that can't keep it consistent.
So let's go over each of those individual parts of your brand to make sure we know how to use each aspect to create an effective whole that sticks with your customers from beginning to end.
Ready to break down the anatomy of a brand board and start using it effectively? Here we go!
1. Full Logo
This should appear front and center on your brand board! Your full logo is the standard iteration of your logo. This is the design that will be used most often on your brand materials and should be immediately recognizable.
2. Alternative logo layouts
What other elements commonly appear with your logo? Alternative logo styles show variations including extra elements – like your tagline! – and additional color options for your logo.
3. Color palette
Color is ESSENTIAL to setting the mood in your branding. Your designer intends for you to use ONLY these colors along with white, unless they specify otherwise by mentioning tints (lighter versions of your colors, made by adding white) or shades (darker versions of your colors, made by adding black).
Keep in mind that the proportion of your colors can set different tones within your brand. Having the ability to style your colors in varying proportions to one another makes your palette versatile!
Some brands may include textures. Textures can make your materials more rich and sensory. These files are most likely provided to you as photos that can make great backgrounds for text or campaigns. Once again, textures must be kept consistent throughout your materials.
5. Submarks (or Icons)
A submark (or for some brands, an icon) is a symbol that can act as a shorthand for your full logo. Oftentimes these are self-contained (in a circle, for example) and feature the first letters or an abbreviation of your business’s name.
Submarks or icons are particularly useful in social media profiles, as a watermark on photos, stickers, pins, or other applications where space is limited.
A brand’s core fonts must be kept consistent in all materials, including online graphics, printed ads, and signage.
Brands usually include three core fonts: a hero font (for headings), a support font (for subheadings or emphasis), and a highly legible body font for large areas of text (like paragraphs). These fonts do not change, except to be used in italics or bold (in some applications).
Many brands also use campaign fonts – fonts that are used for just a year or two but are phased out in between campaigns. These fonts often don't appear on a brand board since they're not permanent fixtures of the brand.
Some, but not all, brands may include patterns that reinforce the mood or theme of the other brand elements. When they’re included, patterns are oftentimes tileable, meaning they can repeat infinitely to cover any area.
8. Styled imagery
Including glimpses of the type of photo styling a brand uses helps remind owners and designers alike the aesthetic and quality of photography the brand demands. Black and white or color? Gritty or clean? White space or obscured shadows? Photography plays a huge role in your branding!
9. Dream client reminder!
This is incredibly helpful to include in a brand board! Your brand should be rooted in attracting your dream client, not just any buyer. Including a visual cue to remind you of who you’re targeting is a great way to keep your larger goals in mind when creating individual pieces.
The bottom line:
Keeping your business on-brand is essential. And your brand style guide is a HUGE help when you use it as a blueprint for all of your materials, whether they're social media graphics or a new sign in your window.
Have you run into trouble using your brand board? What questions do you have? Let us know!
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.