Branding is one of the most important aspects of building a business; however, it’s also one of the trickiest to define.
Some people refer to a brand as a business’ identity while others describe it as a business’ personality. Either way, a brand isn’t about a single color, sentence, or symbol; it’s much more complex than that.
It’s the unique combination of several factors such as your company’s mission, values, story, attitude, messaging, aesthetic, and style, both as you see it and as perceived by others
Now, branding can definitely be an intimidating process to nail down but fortunately, you can start small by creating a brand board.
Definition of a brand board
But first, what is a brand board?
A brand board is a quick reference guide to your brand’s unique style and visual identity.
It usually displays your logo, fonts, and color palette; however, some creatives go as far as including your logo variations, submarks, patterns, textures, and images for inspiration.
With all of these elements put together in one place, document, or file, a brand board is meant to be an at-a-glance visual summary of the look and feel of your brand and what differentiates it from others.
Qualities of a great brand board
A great brand board is one that effectively encapsulates your brand’s unique style and visual identity in a cohesive manner.
A person taking a look at your brand board should be able to see, know, and even feel your brand’s personality, style, and values often without the need to read an explanation.
By extension, people who come across your graphics or brand collateral outside of your website or social media accounts should be able to recognize that it’s from you and your business almost immediately (which is achieved only by consistently following, maintaining, or adhering to your brand’s unique style and visual identity).
How creating a brand board helps your business
Since your business provides products or services to a specific group of people (your niche), creating a brand board is an opportunity for you to put together visuals that would attract your ideal customers and differentiate your business at the same time.
Treat it simply as another way for you to connect with them on a deeper level and strategically position your business as a solution to their problems or as a guide to help them reach their goals.
As a quick reference guide, a brand board can also be used as your litmus test when creating or using graphics to represent your business.
Whenever you’re deciding to use a design element to style your website, social media accounts, email newsletter, collateral, or presentations, all you need to do is put it up against your brand board and see if it matches before you approve it or reject it.
For example, if your brand board contains elements like cursive fonts, light images, playful patterns, and pastel colors, it’ll be easier and faster for you to dismiss dark and moody social media graphics.
Another example is if your brand board contains modern elements like bold patterns, striking colors, and abstract images, it’ll be a no-brainer for you to reject a website template that makes use of muted colors or “old-timey” images.
As you can see, creating a brand board doesn’t just help with your business’ branding. It can also cut down the time, energy, money, and manpower required to maintain a cohesive and consistent brand.
How to quickly create your own brand board
It’s fairly easy to create a brand board from scratch. Simply start by collecting your main graphics and visual elements then put them together in a one-page document. Here’s a list of what you can include:
Logo - the main graphic representation of your business and brand; often used in your website, formal documents, cover pages, brand collateral, etc.
Logo variations - your logo with some elements rearranged for versatility
Submark - a more simplified version of your logo; often used as favicons, watermarks, social media profile photos, in social media posts, etc.
Color palette - the specific colors and unique color scheme to differentiate your business and brand; can be broken down into a primary color palette and a secondary color palette; usually includes each color’s hex codes
Fonts - the specific fonts you use to to differentiate your business and brand across all touch points; typically includes two fonts that complement each other but can also have your header and tagline fonts (if different from your main fonts)
Patterns and textures - decorative designs that give your brand some depth and bring your brand to life
Images for inspiration - photos that best represent the look and feel of your brand and business; typically include colors from your color palette
Free brand board template (Canva)
If you’re short on time and you don’t want to create a brand board from scratch, here’s a free brand board template you can customize using Canva, a free online graphic design tool and website.
All you have to do is sign up, download the PDF instructions document that’ll be sent to the email address you provide, and follow the steps listed there.
You can upload your graphics and visual elements separately into Canva and simply drag and drop them into your copy of the brand board template.
Important: Do not edit the master template. Make a copy that will automatically save in your Canva account and use that for your personal use. Any changes made to the master template will be deleted.
Branding is a strategic way to differentiate and market your business but since it can also be a complex process, you can start by creating a brand board. A brand board is defined as a quick reference guide to your brand’s unique style and visual identity, and it typically includes your logo, color palette, fonts, patterns, and images.
Share in the comments below: Have you made a brand board for your business? How effective is it in encapsulating your brand’s style and visual identity? Feel free to share yours in the comments or on social media by using #ProductiveandFree.