Making a branding kit that actually is going to be used, is about keeping it lean, simple and making it agile. Here’s how.
A branding kit can be everything from a small company’s first logo, to a large brand attempting to control every aspect of how their assets are being used in all possible scenarios.
I will say right off the bat that I believe much more in a small collection of brand assets in the hands of a great designer, than a comprehensive brand book in the hands of someone with no skill.
But let’s get to it.
How will you use your branding kit?
It’s easy to get locked up in the way things are supposed to be. But once you approach the subject from the other side, things become way easier.
How are you going to use your branding kit?
Will you use it to tighten the brand presentation between various departments across the globe — well then maybe it should contain a brand book to keep things aligned. But if you’re going to use it yourself on your brand new start up, you might only need a logotype and a couple of colors handy.
Consider exactly what you need your branding kit for. This will help you avoid unnecessary cost and work.
A purpose driven agile branding kit
When you’re doing as I said and consider how you are going to use it first, you will find it easy to simplify your kit down to the basics.
Building purpose driven and agile kits means that you start out with the bare necessities, then allow it to grow as the need grows.
I’m slightly exaggerating to make a point, but in truth you don’t even need a logo.
Let’s say you start a blog. You can simply use the typeface that your WordPress theme provides, and focus on what you do best — writing content. Your content or product far outweighs your visual identity in building a strong brand.
With that said, a solid beginners brand kit could contain:
- A logo, in vector so as to be able to scale to any size.
- At least one accent color.
- Some small text to remind you of your values and the story behind your brand.
Start with only what you need, and let your branding kit grow as new needs emerge.
Your branding kit’s logo
If you are only building one simple logo (or hiring someone to do it), think about the following:
- It should be easy to use in all formats (social media, website header and so on), so squareish, or at least not too wide or tall is beneficial. Also keeping it rather simple is often a good idea, so it works in small sizes as well as large.
- Look for a program where you can make your logo in vector (or make sure your designer delivers assets in vector) so it can be scaled to any size and recolored easily in any editing software.
Your branding kit’s color scheme
It is more than fine to use only one accent color. For example when building a brand for this client, we settled on only using black, white and red.
In fact I would recommend beginning with one accent color and sticking with it, until you really need another color. Unless of course you want to be a bit more controlled, and avoid black & white alltogether.
If you would go the path of avoiding black and white, you will need a dark background color, a light background color, and an accent.
Your Brand Story
While the Visual Identity is how your brand looks, the Brand Story is what you’re trying to tell. And in an early branding kit it is very beneficial to add some writing that catches the essence of what your brand is setting out to do.
Often when I start a new project, I chat with my client and take notes (or just write my heart out on my own, if it is a personal project) until I feel like everything has been said. Then the work begins to distill the project down to just one or two paragraphs.
When you set out to build a brand kit, it will be immensely helpful for the ones involved to have some sort of text that anchors the brand, its values and its style.
Here are three categories I like to write to anchor my brands.
The vision statement
One line defining your vision, with one or two paragraphs of additional info. The more you work on these, the more clear, concise and short they will be. And the clearer, conciser and shorter they are, the more they will be read.
Listing some words that define your style (and values, especially when you grow into a bigger team) are essential to keep the content creation consistent.
Take this list as an example, and note how your vision of this fictional brand takes shape.
- A sense of adventure.
- Close to nature.
- Old and rugged.
Here are the rules
Of course, you can go with pure black & white, use a single typeface and no images. I’ve seen many do this if they want their blog texts to shine on their own — and it’s quite cool. You can do so much. You can go overboard with minimalism or maximalism, but here are some ground rules.
- Consistency over time builds recognition — stick with your choices and make changes slowly.
- Keep your brand assets in one central location so you always can refer back to it — for example Google Drive or Adobe Creative Library.
- Keep it simple. Keep it lean.
Keep it centralized. Keep it lean. Consistency over time builds recognition.
If you want to learn more about building and running a brand, you can visit our front page and dive right into the Branding Baselines.