Eight Must-Haves For Your Branding Toolkit
Updated: May 29
Congratulations! You're ready to create branding for your new business. Or, you're about to tackle a re-brand because your branding is in need of a refresh. Either way, this is an exciting and creative time. Yay, you!
Before you start designing or hiring a professional graphic designer, it's important to know what you need, the absolute bare minimum. You're not a billion-dollar brand... YET ... so you don't necessarily need 50+ versions of your logo, but you do need these eight must-haves in your branding toolkit to get everything started.
I worked with our designer Emma Hubanks on these easy-to-understand definitions, so rest assured these are all graphic designer approved!
1. A Brand Mood Board
Your brand's mood board consists of a collage of images and colors that represent the vibe of your brand - its look and feel. Your mood board should be visually attractive and create a "mini experience" for your ideal audience.
For example, when you walk into a Bath and Body Works store in September surrounded by the candles and lotions that smell of pumpkin spice and decor of leaves, scarves, and apples, don't you get this warm and fuzzy feeling like you want to grab that pumpkin candle, a latte and cuddle up next to your pup on a beautiful autumn day? EXACTLY. We want your mood board to be like Bath and Body Works during Fall. We want the viewer to feel something when he/she sees it. The images and colors you select will help you achieve your desired mood.
This is our mood board for our client Simple Space St. Louis. Before we started designing, we needed to make sure the mood fits the brand, and then away we went!
2. A Color Palette
These are colors that will represent your brand. Colors evoke particular emotions, so it is important to intentionally pick out a color palette rather than going with your favorite colors. A color palette for a brand typically consists of 3-6 colors.
People make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone (Source)
What a powerful statistic, right?
Brand architects have been utilizing color psychology for ages, and it's such a powerful tool that most of us aren't even aware of its effects on our mood, emotions, and buying behaviors. The lesson here is to not pick a color just because you "like it." I'm not a graphic designer by trade like the awesome designers on the Halcon team, but my basic understanding of color psychology gives me the tools to identify colors that are on-brand for my clients.
Check out this article on color psychology for more information on common color associations.
Remember, your color palette should reflect your business, but ultimately, it's all about which colors will attract your ideal audience, so think of them first!
Here's the color palette for Simple Space!
Typography is a set of fonts selected to represent your brand. Typically, a brand will use no more than three fonts, which will include the following:
1. Heading font
2. Accent font (typically used for subheadings and emphasis)
3. Body text font
Do you want to use one typeface or multiple? Do you want to use the same fonts in your
logo on your website, flyers, social media graphics, etc.? It's recommended to use one font for your logo and a different font for your other pieces of collateral.
4. Primary Logo
A primary logo is the main identifying mark for your business. It will be used the most and is often your business's website header. I also like to call this your main logo or master logo.
It's the one with "all the things" like this logo we did for our client Uncle Mike's Garlic. This logo has elements like date established, location, icon, etc. Since this logo has all the things, you need to be selective of when to use it as it needs to be shown in all its glory with the proper amount of space.
Sample uses - Signage, packaging, promotional items like t-shirts, shopping bag, or brochure cover.
5. Secondary Logo
Alternate logos use the primary logo elements and arrange them in different configurations (layout and color). Having alternate logos will allow your brand to have more flexibility to use your logo in various settings (business cards, social media, signage, etc).
For example, let's say you need to submit your logo to a magazine for use in an ad. When you submit your logo and they send you a mockup, you find that the space allocated for your logo is super small and narrow and the text in your primary logo looks teeny tiny. In this instance, it might be best to use your alternate logo, which could be a horizontal version.
This final type of logo is the most simplified, compact mark of the logo family. For example, it often pulls in an icon or initials that can stand alone as an identifying mark. Submarks are handy to use as favicons, social media profile pictures, watermarks on images, and website footers.
For your viewing pleasure, here's the three logos for Simple Space, so you can see the difference!
7. Brand Patterns
Brand patterns consist of different textures and patterns that work well with your brand. You typically will see businesses use patterns and textures in their print collateral, website, and social media profiles. It is a fun way for you to visually display your brand and include some of your brand's accent colors.
8. Brand Style Guide
Now that you have all these amazing assets, you need to know how to use them! Our designer Emma said it best, "A style guide is a brief outline that showcases your brand's visual elements and, when appropriately used, adds so much power to your business. By sticking to your style guide's visual rules, you create consistency and professionalism." And who doesn't want that?
Your style guide is the go-to document when it comes to your branding assets. It includes a list of do's and don'ts, your color palettes, logo versions and when to use them, etc.
There you have it. The eight must-haves for your branding toolkit. You can obviously have more logo lock-ups, but it is crucial to have at least your primary, secondary, and submark. Once you receive your brand files, make sure you check out our post which explains all those different files and when to use them!
If you're starting out or will not be hiring a professional designer to create all your upcoming marketing materials, keep it simple with this list. It will save you time, money, and make your brand look super-premium and polished!