Arguably, every business has a brand…it’s just a matter of how strong it is. Every body has muscles. Some of those bodies have muscles that can run marathons and some of those bodies have muscles that can’t run across the street.
Creating a brand board is a quick way to do a little cardio for your brand.
A healthy brand leverages consistency to foster recognition, retention, and authority. Realistically, achieving consistency is often difficult in modern businesses where everyone is a brand ambassador. A brand board is a single page that defines the core elements of your brand. It is created so that anyone on your team can use it, and use it quickly, for whatever they need branded to represent the company.
If you can document it, you can delegate it™.
A solid, accessible brand board empowers your entire team and frees up the marketing minds to focus on more strategic marketing tasks rather than policing the masses. It’s also pretty handy to keep on your desktop for quick reference of your own.
What makes using a brand board so important?
You may have heard of brand guidelines or brand standards. They are all good, but nothing is quite so convenient as putting all the essentials into a single page for executive reference. Your extended brand guidelines may outline the correct signage and business card layouts, but let’s leave that for later.
Your quick-reference brand board has the bare basic building blocks of your brand, including the pieces that everyone should be able to use without getting marketing input or approval.
Primary full color logo
This is the way your logo looks when you like it the best. It probably includes a visual graphic that you call your logo, or logo mark, as well as the name of your company or brand. It may also include your tagline if you have one and usually use it along with the logo.
This is a version of your logo that you probably don’t like as well, but you have it because sometimes it needs to be used in situations where your favorite logo doesn’t work as well. For some, this is a single-color logo. Others have a version that is much more vertical or horizontal than their primary logo. It’s simply the version we all agree that we can use when we have to.
This is the graphic image icon portion of your logo. A strong brand often allows the brand mark to appear alone in certain applications. Think Nike® swoosh. However, it’s just as important to decide if you never want your brand mark used alone. Put it on your brand board with a red X over it so you clearly communicate not to use it that way.
Square, or 1:1, logo
This is increasingly important in our digital world. Strong brands have a version that works really well in a square format. This is often called a 1:1 (ratio) because the height is the same as the width. Think about the tiny logo in the top of the browser window when you visit a website. Or visualize the little image that appears next to the comment you just made on Facebook. This square version of your logo needs to be highly legible at a very small size. Sometimes, these versions of your logo may not be used anywhere else.
This is the family of fonts that you use most often in your brand. The primary typeface is not necessarily the font in your logo. This is the group of related fonts you use in your signage, your business cards, and everything written. You might approve the entire typeface, like Helvetica, or you might approve only certain versions, like Helvetica Light and Helvetica Bold, but not Helvetica Extra Bold.
The fonts you use for your brand, not just your logo, are critical in defining the brand and its personality. It’s important to keep the fonts limited and consistent.
Confused? There’s a great overview of font vs. typeface here, including a mini-history lesson.
This may be the actual font used in your logo, or it may be a completely separate typeface that you use for headlines in support of your brand. Sometimes, this is a typeface that is an approved alternative to your primary typeface. The important thing here is that this is a typeface that can be used.
In some cases, particularly older brands, your primary and secondary typefaces may not be available for use online. It’s helpful to specify which fonts are permissible for use. These are usually standard web fonts or often Google fonts.
You know your brand colors should be used consistently every time. Your brand board is a great place to document so everyone knows what to use. Hex colors are six-digit alpha-numeric codes prefaced by a # that are most common colors for anything you view on a screen. PMS and CMYK are versions your printer will want.
Images are always good but strong brands are supported by the images they choose to use. An effective brand board will show examples of images that support your brand well so future images can be selected to support your brand in a similar way.
You can always start by showing images that you simply like for your brand. Over time, you may refine the examples you reference. Many brands benefit from developing a broad digital library. Others access images as they go. The best option is to create your own images, and this is often the most dangerous. Having a few key examples of preferred composition and style will make sharing imagery much less daunting for everyone.
The best benefit of using a brand board
Nothing in digital marketing is truly “set it and forget it”. That’s a myth perpetuated on executives who want to believe finding customers is easier than it is.
The real benefit of using a brand board is that it isolates and documents a group of marketing components with two key things in common. First, these elements won’t change often. This means you can essentially pre-approve their use for every member of your team for at least the foreseeable future.
Second, when you do have to review or revise one of these elements, you will want to review all of them together and at the same time. You can add this as an item in your annual marketing review. Your existing brand board will also set the expectations for communicating any necessary updates or changes.
By documenting these key components, you can delegate them, and that’s as close to “set it and forget it” you can get.
Download our template and start using your brand board today!
Get started now on using this basic tool to empower your team in creating great branded content.
A healthy brand is a consistent brand. It’s also one of the most basic and most difficult pieces to delegate. Our template gives you the framework and the definitions to document your brand building blocks.
If you can document it, you can delegate it.™