When creating a new brand identity, one of the most important components of your brand design process is your brand board. But just what exactly is a brand board?
Your brand board is a complete reference guide that compiles all of your branding elements at a glance. From logos to colors to patterns to typography, your brand board is the blueprint for your brand identity.
In broader terms, a brand board is a visual representation of your brand. It conveys the message that you would like your customers to feel when they first visit your website, your social media page, or your business.
Okay, so why do I need a brand board?
Your brand board is essential in maintaining a cohesive brand identity, and a cohesive brand identity is essential to brand success.
Using a brand board is a great way to keep your branding on track. Think of it as your brand bible—the resource you will always (always!) refer back to when creating any kind of graphics, visuals, or brand collateral. It's an easy reference for all of your brand fonts, color codes, patterns, logos, and textures, to ensure that any visual element you create is cohesive with your brand identity.
So how does it work, and what do I do with it?
Let's break down each component of your brand board step by step, so you will feel confident in knowing exactly how to use each element of your new beautifully designed brand identity.
Your primary logo is the main, most recognizable logo for your brand. This is the design that will be used most often for your brand materials.
Variant logos (also commonly referred to as secondary logos or alternate logos) are alternative layouts for your primary logo. They give your brand variety and keep it fresh while still maintaining a cohesive brand identity. Depending on the situation, it might make more sense to use a round or square logo as opposed to a horizontal logo, or vice versa.
Your color palette is essential because it sets the mood in your branding. To keep a consistent and recognizable brand, it is recommended that you use ONLY these colors in your branding. This includes logo variations, website, business card, social media graphics, marketing materials, etc.
Submarks + Watermarks
A submark (or icon) is a symbol that can act as a shorthand for your full logo. Submarks are particularly useful as social media profile images, where space is limited. They are also handy to have when you want to display your logo or mark your brand at a small size, such as on a social media graphic or a blog thumbnail image.
Submarks can also be used as a “watermark,” at the bottom or in the corner of a social media graphic or image.
Photographers will also sometimes use watermarks on their images to protect their photographs and make them harder to copy.
Fonts + Typography
Just like a color palette, fonts are essential to setting the mood in your branding. Script fonts are often used for feminine brands, and chunky sans serif fonts are often used for modern brands. A good rule of thumb for mixing fonts is to use sans serif fonts for headers and serif fonts for body copy, or vice versa.
It is recommended that you use the same fonts across all mediums—your website, social media graphics, printed materials, etc. Consistency is key!
Patterns + Textures
Patterns and textures reinforce the mood or theme of your other brand elements, and are a fun way to add to the aesthetic of your brand.
Patterns are usually used on print materials, social media graphics or as elements on PDF designs. Use them sparingly on your website as you want to keep your site clean, fresh and simple.
Depending on your designer or your branding package, your brand board may also include the following:
A favicon is a small, iconic image that represents your website. Favicons are most often found in the address bar of your web browser, but they can also be used in lists of bookmarks in web browsers.
These are graphics that can be used as elements on your website, on social media, or as design components on print materials.
These photos provide a glimpse of your brand aesthetic, and help remind you and any designers working for you the “vibe” of your brand. Use these photos and graphics as inspiration for your own brand photography or social media images. We live in a visual era (think instagram!), and visual consistency is key for successful branding.
Making Brand Magic
Keeping your brand identity consistent is essential, and having your brand board to use as a resource is a huge help when you are creating any kind of collateral for print, web, or social.
Always ask yourself this: If I put this social media graphic, business card, website graphic, flyer, shopping bag, etc, next to my brand board, does it flow with the rest of my board? Is it recognizable as part of my brand identity?
If the answer is no, revisit your design and focus on how you can pull in the colors, fonts and patterns from your brand board to make it more cohesive with your brand identity.
REMEMBER: When all of your brand elements work as a whole, that's where the magic happens!