In my last post, I talked about creating a mood board on Pinterest to help you rediscover your creativity and get new inspiration. A mood board can be handy for different kinds of things. You can use it as a go-to place for inspiration, to collect ideas for a special design project or you can use it to make a brand board for your business or blog.
A brand board is a physical or digital sheet that holds the main style assets like logo, fonts, colors, pictures and elements that transport the aim or intention of your brand/blog.
Since I wanted to work a bit on my blog design, this was the first thing for me to do. The brand board is the first stone when you start building your brick wall aka your brand.
Do you really need a brand board, you will ask now. Yes, you do. If you are a business owner or a blogger, you want to put your name or your brand out to the world. You want to be recognized and you want to display your skills/products/ideas for clients or readers in the most effective way. To do this you have to be continuous, not only in your design but in everything you put out there. In a brand board, you can keep the basic guidelines of your brand design together. It is like an everyday reminder. Make one, keep it close and take a look at it if you design something new for your brand. It will keep you from making mistakes.
What does this brand board look like?
In my opinion, there are no certain rules you have to stick to. Of course, it depends on you and your business or product or whatever you are making this board for. Because in the end, it is for you. You are the one working with the board. Maybe you want to use this brand board later as a starting point for a complete style guide but for the moment this is just for you. So make it yours!
Here are some ideas of what you might want to put in there or what I put on mine.
- Logo + 1 or 2 variations
- Elements, patterns
- Intention, inspiration
To switch up your board a bit you could also include photos, social media icons, illustrations. Your board will cover the basics of your style.
Before we get into the details you should think about your brand and your intention. Get clear about your values, what you offer or transport, who your audience/client is and what makes you stand out from others in your field. Take some notes or even formulate a brand statement if you like. This will help you in the process to make straight decisions on what represents your brand best.
Go to Pinterest and create a new board to collect your ideas. Pin pictures, quotes, and patterns that convey you and your brand. It can be really everything, e.g. a food photography because of its colors or the feeling it transmits. You don’t have to pin 50 pictures, 15 will be easily enough.
Afterward, you load this pins into a design program; I used InDesign but you can also use Photoshop or Canvas, where you assemble them into a collage, just like I did with mine. With this collage, you will be able to find colors, patterns or font styles that appeal to your audience and reflect the statement you carved out for your brand. Next up is your brand board, where we bring everything together. Let’s get into the details!
Put your logo in the top center position. You can include 1 or 2 variations of your logo if you want to and if you actually have usage for variations. This depends on where your logo will appear and what it consists of. Does it consist of elements which are not displayable in special print processes or do you have the extra need for one just in black and white, e.g. think about how it will look like on a fax? Do you need 2 versions, one for the web, one for print? Whatever is your need, this should be displayed on the board. Tip: don’t go overboard. You won’t need 5 variations, even if they all look cute. Remember the purpose of a mood board. Make it simple and clear and easy to stick to. If you have a slogan, you shouldn’t hesitate to bring it in here too.
With colors, it’s the same. Keep it simple. Your brand won’t be recognized if you go completely crazy with your color selection. Think about big brands like IKEA. Two colors which are recognized all over the world. You always have the basics: black, white and all 50 shades of gray. If you have a color in your logo, you should surely add this one. Even with this color, you can always use different shades, for example, a light version for backgrounds. On top of that, I would recommend picking one other color. For this color, I urge you to select a complementary color to your first pick. Complementary colors are colors that lay on the opposite of each other on the color wheel. These colors harmonize and at the same time give you a good contrast, like the IKEA example above. This site will help you to pick out a color if you are unsure.
Colors are the most difficult thing, I know. Because color combinations depend on individual taste. The reception of a color can be different for everybody. Even the meaning we transport through colors depends on cultural backgrounds. Yellow could evoke joy in one person but mean jealousy to another.
As I said, I recommend picking just two colors. Two is company, three’s a crowd. So for my brand, I went with an orangey-red and a dark turquoise or teal color. I think they are fresh and give a good contrast. The red really pops out and is straight-forward the turquoise is solid and calm.
I might be repeating myself, but less is more, also when it comes to deciding which fonts to use. For my blog, I use a sans-serif and a handwriting font. This is a good mix. Also, serif and sans-serif are a good combination. You will need one font for running text, like in my case blog posts, which is readable and easy to format. For headlines, you can use a different style of your font like bold or cursive or a different font. The second font you can also use for graphics. Again think about using a font you maybe already using in your logo.
In this section now, you finally get my permission to go wild. If you found patterns during this whole process, you would like to use repeatedly for your designs, this is the place to put them. Are you using your own social media buttons? Do you need geometrical elements for your layouts? Maybe you already got some elements in your logo, you want to repeat on business cards, newsletters and so on. Or you could integrate a Photoshop brush style to individually sign your blog posts. Let your ideas run free, pick the best and save them on your board.
I hope this post was helpful if you are thinking about creating a brand board yourself. If you have further questions, fire away in the comments. And wish me luck while I try to use my board to get my blog into shape.