At Lightboard, we often talk about lean ways to build your brand. Your company might not be a mega-billion dollar unicorn, but there’s no reason you can’t look like one.
Sure, big brands have big budgets to make every asset perfect, but the building blocks of a core brand identity are within everyone’s reach. So you, too, can shine just like the big guys. ✨
Here’s our checklist of the core pieces you need to build (and protect) your brand–saving you time, money, and stress.
[ ] A Strong Logo
Well, duh… but hear me out. Do you really have a well-defined logo, or are there a bunch of old variations that people still grab from their downloads folder? We’ve seen it all– different capitalizations of your company name, a dozen different shades of the “true company color,” and confusion about whether the horizontal or vertical lockup is the “right” one? Here’s a test: if 9 out of 10 people in your company can pick the “right” logo out of a lineup you’re in good shape.
[ ] Fonts
You have fonts in every nook and cranny of your brand. Just like copy sets tone, the font it gets written in sets your visual identity. Keep that identity consistent by locking down branded fonts. You don’t need to invest big bucks into a custom brand font, but you do need to narrow in on a key font that represents your brand. Google fonts are a great place to start since they’re free and easy to access. Once you decide on a font, add it to your brand book and implement it everywhere.
[ ] Master templates
As the guardian of your brand, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing something shipped out to a customer that’s so far off brand another company could have made it. 😤 You can fix this problem with master templates. PowerPoint and Keynote have great templating tools. We all know that you can make a beautiful slide deck for your team, but there’s no guarantee it won’t go completely off brand after changing hands five+ times. That’s frustrating, so lock it down with templates. And don’t just stop at presentations, templates for emails, case studies, social media, and display ads will keep your assets looking sharp and your brand sparkling. ✨
[ ] Library of Graphic Elements
When you’re crunched for time and DIY is your only option, you’ll be grateful to have a folder of assets you can pull into your design. Not only do you avoid starting from scratch, but they make it easy peasy to stay on brand. Your library will grow over time, but there are also some pieces you can invest in right now: illustrations, textures, icons, and pre-selected stock photos are all things you can have a designer create for your use later on. Future you will be grateful. 🙌
[ ] Consistent Image Style
Stock photography is the most used visual element in marketing design. It’s cost effective and, as a little saying I coined goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. 🤫 Stock images are a great way to tell your brand’s story, but they need to be on brand just like any other asset. If you haven’t already, add a section to your brand book that touches on image style. For example, should images feature people or environments? Should images contain a certain subtle color palette? Is there a standard overlay you want to have on photos, and if so, when should it be used? Defining these terms can level up your images from generic stock to branded photography. 📸
[ ] Standardized Social Media
It’s hard enough to stand out on social media, and an inconsistent visual identity doesn’t help. When your followers are mindlessly scrolling through their feeds, they need a visual queue to know what they’re seeing belongs to your brand. Set up some social media guidelines that teach your team to create posts that are perfectly on brand, every time. You can do this by creating templates for content campaigns, using a defined color palette, staying consistent with copy styles, or setting up a filter you can use on every photo.
[ ] Cohesive Email + PDF
If you’re like a lot of our customers, you’re reaching out to leads with emails and PDFs. These early impressions are the most important, so your messaging needs to be crystal clear. Do your materials look like they came from the same company? Your audience has the memory of a goldfish, so you need to hold their hand every step of the way. Even if they’re excited when they drop their email, by the time your drip hits, they’ve likely forgotten all about you. I know, harsh… but true. A cohesive look and feel between your emails and your PDFs will give a (not so) subtle queue to your audience that this all came from the same place. Remember, cohesiveness = conversions, my friend.
[ ] Brand Book
A solid brand book is the north star of your visual identity. Having a place where you can go to check color codes, font options, and logo spacing is a magical, magical thing. 🤩Even if you aren’t a total brand nerd like we are, there’s no denying the utility of keeping all that info in one place. Once you have a brand book, make sure it’s easy to access. Guidelines are worthless if no one can see them, so ensure they’re easy to understand and just a click away from your team. Oh, and if you don’t have a brand book, sheesh–let’s take care of that, pronto.
Building Blocks Scorecard __ / 8
Well friend, how’d ya do?