Elements of an Effective Brand System

We've seen a lot of brand systems and we've noticed that the best have a few things in common. No two brand systems are the same but here are a few key elements that are consistent in all effective brand systems.

In many ways, we are now in the era of brand systems. Simply having a set of brand guidelines and a storage mechanism for your digital assets isn't enough. With all of the touchpoints that are required in a buyer’s journey, having a systematic approach to asset creation and brand usage is more important now than ever.

When a brand system is effective, it is the single source of truth for all things brand-related. Brands can use a brand system to get ahead of the competition. It is used by teams internal and external to the brand to create branded content, build websites, create UI experiences, and create physical print collateral. Designers use it to quickly create wireframes or mock-ups to hand to the developers. Developers leverage to easily pull code to implement those designs. Marketers use it to generate content to be shared throughout multiple channels. Sales teams use it to update their slide decks with approved content. And all teams use it to onboard and train employees.

Elements of an Effective Brand System

A brand system is a collection of visual and contextual elements that allows someone to effectively and confidently communicate the brand story. Those elements are:

Logos - Logos of all variations, colors, sizes, and uses are typically stored within the brand system. It will also typically include how to use and not use the logos.

Colors - A single brand can have several approved colors. These official colors, as well as shading variations, will all be defined within the brand system. 

Typography - Fonts and where they should be used are another key element of a brand system. It will outline the appropriate font for things such as headlines, titles, quotes, etc.

Brand Mission & Values - a brand system will describe the mission and value of the company. This will capture the tone of the brand and expresses your brand persona and core values through written words used to communicate with your audience.

Imagery & Illustrations - When building a piece of content there almost always needs to be some visual aid. The brand system will provide plenty of approved options when choosing that visual element.

Icons - typically in a brand system, you’ll find a set of approved symbols that can be used in print, web, slide decks, etc.

Interactive Elements - Elements such as buttons, links, menus, forms, etc are an important part of your brand system as the need for digital experiences increases.

Videos - both short and long-form videos are a big part of your brand system. As digital marketing increases, so too does the use of motion through video or even GIF.

A lot of these components are shared with design systems but there are differences between design systems and brand systems. An effective brand system will have all of these elements in some capacity. A great brand system goes into all of these elements in great detail. All of these elements are generally displayed in some kind of interactive, cloud-based style guide that combines some elements of a content management system with the functionality and searchability of an asset management system.

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Author

Brian Felker

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