Design Systems vs Brand Systems: What's the Difference?

When it comes to creating a successful brand, there is more to it than just designing a pretty logo and slapping it on a website. In order for your brand to be cohesive and effective, you need to create a system that governs how all of the different elements work together. This is where design systems and brand systems come in. So what's the difference? Let's take a closer look!

What is a design system?

A design system is a collection of reusable design components that can be used to create interfaces. It includes everything from fonts and colors to buttons and icons. By using a design system, you can ensure that all of your designs are consistent and look like they belong to the same family. Designers, front-end developers, and product managers are the primary users of a design system. Typical components of a design system include fonts, colors, buttons, icons, and layout grids.

Here are 3 examples of great design systems:

  1. Google Material Design - This is one of the most comprehensive and well-developed design systems out there. It includes a wide range of components and is updated regularly to keep up with the latest trends. It's also very user-friendly, making it easy for designers to create beautiful interfaces that look and feel cohesive.
  2. Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines - This is a great example of a design system that is both comprehensive and easy to use. Included in it is everything from detailed specifications for how each component should look and behave, to tips on creating effective user flows.
  3. Microsoft Design Language - This is another great example of a design system that is both comprehensive and easy to use. It includes everything from detailed specifications for how each component should look and behave, to tips on creating effective user flows. In addition, the Microsoft Design Language is constantly updated to keep up with the latest trends.

What is a brand system?

A brand system is a set of guidelines that govern how your brand should be used. It includes things such as logo usage, tone of voice, and messaging hierarchy. Think of it as the rule book for your brand. Brand systems are vital to ensuring that your brand is used consistently and effectively. By utilizing a brand system, you can ensure that your branding is on point and that your marketing materials are aligned with your overall brand strategy. Marketing managers, brand managers, and creative directors are the primary users of brand systems. Brand systems also typically include a style guide, messaging guidelines, and voice and tone standards.

Examples of brand systems are more difficult to find for 2 reasons. First, the concept of a brand system is still fairly new so many companies don’t have a brand system and if they do but it was custom developed and has some clever unique name. Second, brand systems are typically not made public like a design system might be because a brand system contains a lot of high-level strategies and proprietary information.

The difference between design systems and brand systems.

Design systems are more concerned with the look and feel of your brand, while brand systems focus on the overall strategy and consistency of your brand. Brand systems are the rule book for your brand, while design systems are more like a toolkit that you can use to create cohesive and beautiful branding.

Almost all brand systems also have many of the components of a design system as well. A well-built brand system is almost like a design system on steroids.

At the end of the day, both design systems and brand systems can be incredibly valuable tools for businesses. It just depends on what your specific needs are. So, take the time to assess your needs and decide which system is right for you.

How do brand systems and design systems work together?

Brand systems and design systems can actually work quite well together. Brand systems provide the overall strategy and guidelines for your brand, while design systems focus on the look and feel of your branding. By combining these two types of systems into a single platform, you can create a cohesive and effective branding solution that will help your business stand out from the competition.

Author

Brian Felker

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