What is a brand board?
A brand board is a quick reference guide of your brand’s visual elements. It’s used as a resource when designing new materials to ensure your brand style remains consistent.
There are many different styles of brand boards with varying elements. At a minimum, you’ll want your logo, a color palette, font choices, and visual inspiration. You can also add elements like patterns, icons, alternate logos, specific heading and body copy styles, buttons, gradients, and any other visual elements that help define your brand.
Basic brand board elements:
Your primary logo is the main visual mark that represents your company across all of your branding and marketing materials.
Sometimes you’ll need to put your logo in a spot where it won’t fit. You may have a stacked logo that will end up super tiny if you try to print it on a promotional pen. Or, maybe your logo is really long, and it doesn’t quite work in your social media avatars, which are usually circles or squares. It’s best to have variations that fit horizontal, vertical, and circular spaces. You’ll also want to consider a variation that works over a dark background or photo. An all-white version usually works well for this.
Using the same font styles consistently will help your brand look polished and professional, as well as reduce clutter in a complicated layout. Choose an easy-to-read font for large blocks of text, then add style with a display font for headlines or calls to action. Consider font families with several weights and styles so you have versatility to add bold or italicized text. Be sure your fonts complement each other and fit with your brand’s personality.
Always remember the most important part of a font is legibility! The goal of your text is to communicate. If it’s too hard to read, you won’t communicate your message. Clutter is also hard to read, so choose no more than three fonts for your brand board.
Think of your favorite color. Now go paint your bedroom with that color because you’re not going to use it for your branding. Colors have emotional values attached to them and you want to pick hues that resonate with your audience. Blue represents trust and security. Pink is playful and feminine. Match your colors to your brand’s personality, not yours!
For your brand board, start with one or two signature colors to represent your brand. You’ll use these the most, and your audience will consider them your iconic colors. These colors are best used for headlines or large blocks of color.
Choose two to four secondary colors to complement your signature colors. You’ll use these for contrast, additional color blocks, and subheads. Include both dark and light shades to help with versatility. Be sure all of the colors in your palette complement each other.
Add an additional one or two “pop” colors to use for drawing emphasis to important information, like buttons or sale prices.
Include Hex codes, RGB, Pantone, and/or CMYK values for all of the colors so you can match the hues in different software programs and across digital and print platforms.
Photographs are also evoke emotion, and are often the strongest feature of your brand. There are many different styles of photographs. Your marketing materials will look more professional if your image are all in the same style. Choose a few photos that match your brand style and add them to your brand board. You can use these as a reference when selecting photography for future materials.
It’s sometimes helpful to include a picture of your target customer on your brand board. Think of the type of person your business is most targeted to, then find an image of someone who fits this description. Putting an image like this on your brand board helps remind you of who you’re trying to reach when developing marketing materials.
Patterns add a textural element to your brand and are good for backgrounds or packaging.
Icons are illustrations that often work in conjunction with text to visualize headlines and categories. These can also be stylized versions of social media icons.
Keywords are the adjectives that define your brand style. Adding these to your brand board will help you keep your brand’s key personality in mind. It also helps as a checks and balances system to help you ensure everything on your brand board matches these characteristics.
Building your own brand board
Check out my brand board shown here to see how all these elements come together. Are you ready to create your own brand board? For a template, download my free Brand Identity Starter Kit, which includes a brand discovery worksheet and brand board template!
If you’re unsure how to make decisions on what to include in your brand board, start with brand discovery. Check out my post, Brand Identity 101, part 2: Discover Your Brand for questions to ask yourself when thinking about your brand strategy.
Would you prefer to work with a brand identity professional on your brand board and visual identity? I’d love to help! Head on over to my services page for details on how I can help you get your brand looking amazing and reaching the right audience!