Last week, I wrote a blog post all about why it’s super important to have a brand, not just a logo. Of course, knowing that you need a brand and actually knowing how to craft a great one are two totally separate things. That’s why this week I’ll be talking all about the essential elements of a great brand, starting with the 8 essential visual brand elements your business needs. So let’s get started!
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” –Paul RandWhen you think about your brand not just as a logo and a color palette, but as an experience, you start to realize that there’s a lot more to creating an awesome experience than you might think. Sure, you know that you want you brand to exude, say, joy and fun, but how do you get that message out there? The answer? With visual brand elements. Things like your logo, color palette, fonts, and graphics go a long way in communicating what your brand is like to potential customers. Here are 8 visual brand elements that you definitely don’t want to forget about.
1. Inspiration BoardWhen you’re first designing your visual brand elements, you might feel at a complete loss at where to start. That’s where an inspiration board comes in. A brand inspiration board (also called a mood board) is a collection of photos and images that conveys the emotions, look, and feel that you want your brand to exude. It acts as the visual foundation for your brand, and you should refer back to it at every step along the way to ensure that you’re keeping your visual brand elements consistent. To create your brand inspiration board, log into Pinterest and make a new secret board for your brand. Then pin images that inspire you and represent what you would like your brand to be. Don’t forget to add notes about why each image inspires you! You can use this Pinterest board as your brand inspiration board or go one step further and design one using Photoshop. Having just one image that you can constantly pull up is super helpful.
2. A LogoWhile your logo definitely isn’t your whole brand, it’s a huge component of it. A logo acts as the main visual identifier of your business and should be the ultimate example of your visual branding.
3. Logo VariationsYour logo, as the main visual identifier of your brand, is probably going to be used a lot–and in a lot of different situations. Sometimes, though, the shape of your logo might not be the perfect fit for the space you have to put it in. This is where logo variations come in. For example, a horizontal logo doesn’t fit very well in a square social media profile image. So instead, you need to have a square version of you logo that fits perfectly in this area. Having logo variations allows for diversity while still keeping things consistent. When coming up with logo variations, make sure you have one that works horizontally, one that works vertically, and one that works in a square or circle. If your logo involves a unique icon or illustration, it can also be helpful to have a simple wordmark version of your logo.
4. A Color PaletteHaving a definitive brand color palette is a good way to keep your branding consistent even when you’re not using your logo. This should include the colors used in your logo as well as a complimentary color or two. You should also avoid only having light or dark colors in your palette so it doesn’t feel too washed out. Having a good mix of light, medium, and dark tones allows for variation and appropriate color usage in your designs. Once you have a brand color palette, stick to it. Using other colors will only undermine all of the hard work you’ve done to create a consistent visual identity for your brand.
5. FontsLike your color palette, having a few go-to fonts is a good way to keep branding consistent without using your logo. When choosing your brand fonts, look at the fonts that you use in your logo and choose 1-2 more fonts that compliment them. Then, give each font a job–one for headers, one for body text, and (maybe) an accent font. In general, it’s a good idea to have no more than 3 fonts. Otherwise, things just get cluttered and confusing. I also recommend using your main logo font super sparingly or else it won’t be as special! Once you have your brand fonts, stick to them. Even though it might get boring using the same fonts over and over and over again, this is how you make good branding!
6. Patterns and TexturesPatterns and textures are visual brand elements that often go overlooked, but they definitely shouldn’t be! They are great for use in backgrounds, graphics for social media, collateral items such as business cards, and more (more on those in a minute). They also add character and more consistency. When choosing your brand patterns and textures, you should be sure that they incorporate your brand colors and feel like your brand.
7. GraphicsBranded graphics such as social media post graphics, social media icons, and other buttons for your website are another great way to keep things consistent with your visual brand identity. With all your other brand elements in place, these should be super easy to design!
8. Collateral ItemsMuch like your graphics, collateral items such as business cards and stationery should also be branded using your brand colors, fonts, and patterns/textures. Carrying over your branding into physical items like this really cements the consistent experience a potential customer should be having with your brand.
So there you have it: 8 visual brand elements your business needs! From designing your logo to choosing the little things like patterns and textures, every brand element I’ve listed here contributes to creating a beautiful, purposeful brand. By paying attention to these things from the very beginning, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Want more tips about branding your business or blog? I’ve created a free complete branding checklist for you to download. Just fill out your details below and I’ll send the checklist straight to your inbox!
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